Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Tuesday Juxtapose - 10092013 Tuna

Reference Number: 10092013HKG
Dish: 炭火金鎗魚生飯 Lightly Grilled Fatty Tuna on Sushi Rice Set
Venue: 花盃日本料理  Hana  Sakazuki  Japanese  Restaurant
Address: 2/F, China Tai Ping Tower, Phase II, 8 Sunning Road, Causeway Bay 銅鑼灣新寧道8號中國太平大廈2期2樓
Price: HK$250 (plus 10% service charge)

It is a sin to write about my favorite fish, tuna, for only one week. There are so many different cuts, so many different ways to prepare it, that you can go for months without repeating yourself on tuna dishes. But boss said one week. So let's make it count.

Hana Sakazuki is my favorite Jap restaurant. Yes, everyone is lured by their very very famous teppanyaki, but I like them for the tuna. And today, I'm having my favorite tuna dish:

炭火金鎗魚生飯 Lightly Grilled Fatty Tuna on Sushi Rice Set

Though, arguably, I'm not having one tuna dish, but three today.

But first, let's begin with a review of the bowl. Yes, you heard me right, the bowl. Instead of the delicately painted bowls, typically seen in Japanese restaurants (also used here but not for this dish), they are using a heavy wooden one that looks ... hmm old and well ... ugly.  There are good reasons for that, just read on.  In that dull and heavy bowl, is a layer of sushi rice, which is at the perfect temperature. Too cold, the rice becomes hard; too warm, the vapour brings a bad taste to the fish.  Finally, on top of it: the tuna!

I did say earlier, that this is in essence, is "three" tuna dishes right?  Let's count together - Otoro at the very top, Toro at the side, and Akami sandwiched between Otoro and rice.

I'm not usually impressed by sashimi on rice, too often the fish and rice go better separately. Not in this case.  The arrangement of the fish in that order, in this particular bowl, serves only one purpose - to make sure that the rice and fish become a part of each other.

As soon as the chef is done with mincing the Toro and carefully arranging everything in place, he brings out the hand torch and starts flame grilling the slices of Otoro, from top-down. This wooden bowl is perfect for taking the heat.

The fatty Otoro, is notoriously difficult to handle.  Too often it falls apart into small pieces between your chopsticks.  Also, the fatty delicacy is not always to everyone's taste.  However, the grilling here solves it all. The brief hand-torching transforms the top side of the Otoro slices into a crispy layer, with the Omega-3 rich fish oil melting and dripping, on to the lean Akami and rice below. The Toro at the side is heated just ever so slightly to make it warm.  Everything is better - synergy at it's very best.

I generally go for the rice first.  Its own gentle sweet flavour mixes together with the charcoal-fish aroma. Pour a few drops of soya sauce on to the fish itself, before digging in. My suggested sequence being: Akami-Toro-Otoro.

Proof of how good this is? Boss, who's sitting next to me, regretted not ordering it. Next time, boss.

Best consumed ... in Autumn when the fish is most fatty.

The Tuesday Juxtapose Chart

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