Aji furai (Horse mackerel deep-fried in breadcrumbs)

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Broadcast date:February 13, 2015

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Rice
  • Eggs
  • Beans & Tofu
  • Flour
  • Other

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Ingredients (Serves 4 )

4 horse mackerel (about 20 cm in length)
1 egg
Flour
Breadcrumbs
Salt & pepper
2 large cabbage leaves
Vegetable oil for the deep-frying

Preparation

  1. Remove the tough scaly segment on either side near the tail and cut off the pectoral fins and heads together.   Use a spoon handle or some other implement to scoop out the innards from the opening where the head was.  Rinse the inside and outside of the fish thoroughly, and pat the fish dry with kitchen paper or a tea towel.
  2. Lay the fish on a chopping board so that the back or dorsal fins are facing you with the tail on the left and side where the head was on the right.  Tilt the blade of your knife at a low angle, so it is almost parallel to the chopping board, and slit along the fish just above the dorsal fin.  Cut into the flesh along the backbone.  Wriggle the blade a little at a time through the flesh, drawing the blade toward you to open up the fish.  Take care not to cut through the skin along the belly.  The skin should remain in one piece with the flesh opened out to both sides still attached to it.  Turn the fish over skin-side up with the dorsal fin facing you again.  Again tilt the blade at a low angle and cut into the flesh just above the dorsal fin. Move the blade carefully to peel the fin and the backbone from the flesh.  Lastly, cut off the backbone away from the point where it is joined to the tail.
  3. Slice the cabbage leaves into thin julienne strips and soak in cold water for about 5 minutes. Then drain in a sieve or colander.  Crack and beat the egg in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of water.  Season the fish with a little salt and pepper.  Coat both sides with flour, patting off any excess with your hands.  Then coat both sides with the beaten egg, and then breadcrumbs.
  4. Heat the oil to 170°C.  Deep-fry the fish one at a time till golden brown, which should take about 2 minutes.  The fish will sink to the bottom of the pan first, but will gradually well up to the surface.  The bubbles streaming from the fish will get smaller and eventually quite tiny, which is a sign that the fish is ready.  Remove the fish from the pan. Lay julienned cabbage along the side as a garnish, and serve.

Catch of the Day

Horse Mackerel in Japanese Cuisine

Horse mackerel or aji is a very familiar fish to the Japanese, given that it is available across Japan throughout the year.  It tastes good no matter how it’s prepared, to the extent that some people say its name comes from the Japanese word aji, which means ‘flavour’.

Aji-no-tataki or horse mackerel tartare-style is a signature recipe.   Raw horse mackerel is finely chopped up and served with finely chopped spring onions, ginger, or other garnishes, which help mask the fishy smell.  And horse mackerel is also available in dried form. The fish are slit open, spread out, treated with salt and dried in the open air.  The dried fish is often grilled, making for a typical Japanese breakfast dish.

A number of  regions have their own recipes for this fish.  In Miyazaki prefecture, Kyushu, the fish is grilled and mashed, and then grilled again with miso paste and served in a cold stock prepared from smoked bonito, producing a dish known as hiya-jiru.   In the Izu Islands, they have a dish called kusaya, in which horse mackerel are opened up and soaked in a fermented liquid, and then dried.  The dried fish is then grilled.  But you need to be careful about your neighbours when you do this, because the fish has a very pungent smell.

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