“Well then, let’s get on with the cooking, shall we?”
After fishing, we returned home and started preparing a late lunch.
“First, we’ll boil the fish, and then we’ll peel the skin off.”
I peeled one side of the fish and showed her.
“I didn’t know it was so easy to peel by hand, interesting !”
Next to me, Watanabe san was watching the work with admiration.
Today she is wearing a pretty apron with frills on it.
I had prepared it in advance because we were going to cook together after fishing.
“Filefish gets its name from the fact that its skin can be easily peeled off. Come on, Watanabe san, try it.”
I stepped to the side and urged her to peel it.
“Well…..it’s……harder than you think !”
“It’s like you’re putting all your strength into it at once. Go for it.”
Watanabe san replied, and somehow managed to peel the skin while shaking her arm.
“Next, we take out the entrails. This part is the same as other fish, so it won’t be any different.”
“Yes. Leave it to me !”
I continue to instruct her. This is only the third time she has handled a fish, but I like her attitude toward cooking.
When I asked her why, she said, [I don’t just want you to do it for me, I also want to see Aikawa kun happy] and I almost hugged her.
“Aikawa kun, it’s done.”
She had a little trouble, but in general she seemed to be able to successfully remove the internal organs.
“After that, we wash the insides in fresh water and cook them in sauce.”
I mixed up some commercial soy sauce for simmering with water and poured it into the pot.
“Aikawa kun, you don’t make the sauce, do you? I think there might be a recipe or something on the Internet……?”
Seeing my movement, Watanabe san tilts her head.
It’s true that the sauce is basically mixed, but it’s different from boiled.
“This is a local recipe for soy sauce and miso sauce, and it’s really good. I met an old man at a fishing spot who recommended them to me.”
When I tried it, the taste was so much better than mixing the sauce by myself that I have been using the commercial sauce for simmered dishes ever since.
“Aikawa kun, you are rather sociable, aren’t you?”
“I don’t think so…….? I only talk to Aizawa at school, though?”
I tilted my head at Watanabe san’s words.
“You’re talking to Maho san and Riho san as well, and you also served customers well at your part-time job, right?”
“Well, maybe there’s a part about being a good listener?”
It’s just my experience that people who want to talk tend to gather at fishing spots.
They may talk about fish they caught in the past, brag about their sons or grandchildren, or talk about their successful business ventures.
Some people go on and on about things that would be fine if you just listened to them.
I can hear some interesting information about fishing and miscellaneous trivia in such conversations, so I sometimes spend a lot of time with them.
“I-I would like you to talk more with me, too.”
Watanabe san looked up at me when she said that.
She seems to be very frustrated with the fact that I’m currently not allowed to have any contact with her at the school.
“Now, I think I’m going to prepare some sashimi.”
Pending her reply, I place the two remaining filefish on the cutting board.
“I had them tightened to keep them fresh, so first I had to physically separate the head from the body.”
Holding the head and back with separate hands on each side, I put more force into them.
“Then took hold of the head and back with separate hands and strained, now, there’s this tonsil stone, but be careful not to damage it, because if you do, you’ll get liver poisoning and the fish will smell too fishy to eat.”
I show her the tonsil stone and carefully remove it.
“After that, I peel the skin off the fish and cut it into three pieces for sashimi. Half of the liver will be sliced, and the other half will be pounded with the back of the knife, then tossed with soy sauce.”
After cooking the fish in a fluid manner, I asked Watanabe san to cook the remaining one.
As I guide her through the process and guide her to the filefish, I turn my attention to the simmered fish.
“I-it’s done !?”
The fish was a little distorted, but for a fish that was being processed for the first time, this was probably a good job.
“Then, it’s almost time to boil it, let’s have a meal.”
After serving rice and miso soup, we moved to the dining table.
“I think this may be the first time I’ve ever eaten fileish.”
“They don’t appear in supermarkets.”
Because it is a high-end fish, you don’t see filefish in the market very often.
Fresh ones are particularly rare, and it would be no exaggeration to say that eating the liver raw is an angler’s privilege.
“First, start with boiled fish…….”
Watanabe san and I both reached for our chopsticks at the same time.
We unwrap the meat and bring it to our mouths…….
“It’s delicious ! The sauce for simmering is sweet, and the filefish meat is soft and tender. It goes well with rice.”
She says and brings a bowl of white rice to her mouth. The combination of simmered fish and white rice is so perfect that I could go on eating it indefinitely.
“I suggest you try the liver next.”
Expecting Watanabe san’s reaction, I offer her the liver of the filefish.
She looks at the pinkish-colored liver and seems a little taken aback.
Since I actually handle it myself, I guess she seems to be reluctant because she has imagined it realistically.
“I’m not trying to prank you.”
“Uuuh, if Aikawa kun says so, then……”
She cautiously plucked one liver and brought it to her mouth with soy sauce.
“Nngh ! It’s so rich and sweet !”
The next moment, Watanabe san’s eyes fluttered open.
“The liver of a filefish has to be really fresh to show its true value. You have to tighten them right after you catch them and bring them home while keeping them fresh, otherwise they won’t taste as good.”
I too extend my chopsticks and eat the liver sashimi. The rich flavor spreads throughout my mouth, and the thick taste sticks to my tongue. It was as if I was eating the ocean as it is.
“Next, try the white sashimi with the pounded liver dissolved in soy sauce.”
“It’s delicious too !”
Watanabe san, having completely forgotten her earlier hesitation, praised the filefish sashimi with soy sauce for the liver.
“Yeah, the flesh is still clear, and it’s very plump and tasty.”
“You’re right……it’s delicious…….”
That’s where we both stopped talking.
Apparently we are thinking the same thing.
“But this isn’t enough for me.”
“I guess so…….”
We had caught only three pieces of filefish today, which means that the amount of fish each of us could eat would be small.
It’s only the beginning of the season now, so we can only hope for more after this.
“How about fishing for filefish every week from now on, Aikawa kun? In the meantime, what are your plans for next weekend?”
Watanabe san, who now had the face of a fisherman, asked me what my plans were for the weekend.
On the other hand, I gave her a wry smile and told her my schedule.
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