Monkfish, anko, is a winter delicacy in Japan – especially in Tokyo region. Monkfish which we enjoy in Japan is not a small variety. The average fish – female fish – weighs around 31 pounds. The most popular way to enjoy anko is anko-nabe, in which meaty fish is cooked with its liver, skin, tofu, shiitake mushroom, seasonal vegetables and shirataki noodles.
When the weather gets chilly I used to make a pilgrimage or two to a tiny old anko-nabe restaurant called Isegen in Awajicho, Kanda district, Tokyo. Isegen was founded in 1830 and still holds true old spirit. We take shoes off at the door of the restaurant. The person in charge of handling shoes put our shoes away in the shoe box. In return he/she give us a wooden plaque on which number is written. We hold on to it until the end. After the meal we present it at the cashier in order to get our bill. This is a very clever system. If we do not pay the bill, we don’t get our shoes back.
At Isegen the fish and vegetables are cooked in shoyu (soy sauce) flavored, mellow sweet dashi stock. Please take a look at photos of the anko-nabe dish at Isegen at this link: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/dancyotei/20141210
This year I slightly changed the way to cook the monkfish liver. After removing the stringy part I peeled the very thin skin which covers the liver. After salting it for about 40 minutes, I rinsed it and rolled it in a fukin cloth, then, bamboo rolling mat. The steaming time was not my regular 40 minutes, but 20 minutes, expecting the cooked liver is much more juicier in the end. Hope next week at Blue Moon you can find the monkfish liver!