It was date night. After work, I joined Mr Contrôleur in a traditional Japanese restaurant. He had pre-ordered a couple of “snacks” to start. One of them was Shiokara – salt cured fish guts.
“Quelle horreur!” I thought …
What is shiokara?
As the menu suggested, this dish is made from meat from various marine animals, in a thick brown liquid made from heavily salted, fermented viscera. The fermentation process involves mixing viscera (internal organs like stomach/intestines) with 10% salt and 30% malted rice. This is packed in a closed container to ferment, for up to a month.
Salty? Fishy? Like European cured anchovies – but different in texture. It is a strong taste. I tried some but … neither texture nor taste was to my liking. The ever reliable Mr Contrôleur tried it. Grimaced. And then ate it all. Thankfully it was small. He says he was fulfilling his promise to eat all food experiments (wedding vows 2011).
Acquiring a taste?
Some suggest it is an acquired taste – even for the native Japanese palate. One suggestion is to eat shiokara in one gulp and wash it down a shot of straight whiskey! Perhaps we should try it again with this accompaniment?
All part of the gourmet adventure
Our table in the restaurant had subdued lighting. The menu was hand written and the words “salted-cured fish guts” were read as “salt-cured fish cuts”. Hmmmm? Note to self – take reading glasses to dinner. However, it is all part of the adventure – and makes an amusing anecdote.
What have you tried in your gourmet adventures?