March 14, 13 | Takako Chiba
Lately in Hokkaido, many conversations have begun to include "Spring will be here soon!" comments, but you can be sure that it is still very much winter here. On the plus side you can still enjoy skiing and snowboarding! In terms of winter foods, nothing beats warming up your cold body with a delicious hot pot! ("Nabe" in Japanese!)
Crab hot pot, cod hot pot, Ishikari hot pot, and many other kinds. There are many varieties of hot pot to choose from but today I'd like to tell you about hot pot made with "sculpin."
▲ Here's a sculpin fish!
Many Hokkaido families are familiar with this delicious fish, but have any of you Hokkaido Likers seen it before? This fish's appearance is a bit grotesque and its skin is rather slimy, so no many people choose to buy this fish at the markets. For this article I visited Keio Plaza Hotel restaurant Akizu, where one of the head chefs, Mr. Atsuhia Yamamoto, prepared the hot pot for me.
▲ Keio Plaza Hotel restaurant Akizu head chef Mr. Atsuhia Yamamoto.
"This sculpin is brought in from Erimo. It can be enjoyed fried with a drizzle of ponzu sauce, or with a liver sauce. However the best taste is probably the hot pot dish. Here we offer a hot pot made with a miso base."
▲ The liver tastes delicious.
The completed miso flavored "Sculpin Hot Pot!"
Sculpin bits left over after preparation also make a wonderful soup stock. Many who try it are surprised by the great taste! Although the fish is a bit flabby in appearance, the meat is mostly muscle and as such has a firm texture and plain taste. After the bits used to make the soup stock are removed, add a variety of vegetables to the broth and enjoy the dish.
If you visit Hokkaido this year keep an eye open for sculpin on the menu. It will be labeled as "Kajika" (かじか) here in Hokkaido. Also be sure to visit Akizu restaurant to try their delicious version of the sculpin hot pot, and many other tasty dishes they have to offer.
■ Article written in collaboration with:
"Akizu" (あきず) - B1, Sapporo Keio Plaza
(Photographs courtesy of Suwa Photograph Office)