I spotted very unique looking fish at the Blue Moon fishmonger at Union Square greenmarket last week. It reminded me of kawahagi in Japan. The fish has the same funny face, big head and round body as the one, kawahagi, that I know in Japan. Stephanie called it triggerfish. In Japanese kawahagi literally means “removing the sheet (of scales)”. The fish is named so, because when we scale this fish the sheet of scale can be removed by hands by pulling it from the head to the tail. Here you can see how to do it in this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2hLT7QuEhRQ
Trigger fish is said to be very aggressive fish and eat anything. Here is the article by blogger about triggerfish which I found at The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk site – a wonderful site to learn our local animal ecosystem. http://e-www.maritimeaquarium.org/blog/triggerfish-in-long-island-sound/#
Triggerfish is covered with a thick sheet of scales and they cannot be removed by a scaling tool. So, I decided to use a Japanese scaling technique – koke-hiki – which is applied to fluke. Fluke is also covered with a sheet of scales
After scaling and butchering the head of the fish I pulled out the intestines, including liver. The large size of the liver surprised me. You can see it in the photo. In order not to waste the liver, I salted it for some time and cooked it in the skillet for my lunch. A very fishy strong odor permeated in the kitchen during cooking. At the end of cooking the liver was soaked in its own oil. I tasted the cooked liver anyway, but had to spit out immediately. Very fishy flavor and bitterness overwhelmed in my mouth in a second.
On the other hand, the fish was extremely satisfactory. Delicious! The taste of triggerfish reminded me of the one of monkfish. It is naturally sweet and is very lean tasting fish. I poached the fish in sake along with chopped onion, garlic, tomato, cured olive, caper and thyme. I will go back to Blue Moon this coming Wednesday to look for another triggerfish. Hope they will catch it. I, then, definitely try the other way to remove the sheet of the scale – peeling it off from the head.