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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Grilled Tai (Sea Bream)

This year, I offered to host New Years at my house, in large part, this was an idea formulated by my sister and I to let the kids spend some time with our aunts, the last of their generation. Family is quite important to us, and the feeling not only of family, but, of the connections and succession of the generations is something that we consider to be very important. Since we were doing something special, we had gone to the Japanese supermarket to get some groceries, and we saw fresh from Japan, Red Sea Bream, something you rarely see whole and very fresh here.

The raw fish had clear full eyes and fresh gills, it was clearly not very old. It also had been caught and prepared in Japan, which suggested that the fish had rested properly as it flew here. We decided, since it was so fresh, and somewhat pricey, a simple preparation was in order. The fish was taken from ice, stuffed with negi, which is a large Japanese green onion, some lemon and mitsuba, a distinctive flavor of Japanese foods. We then prepared a glaze of shoyu (soy sauce), sake, rice wine vinegar and sugar. This would be brushed on at the last minute to add a finishing sweet/sour note.

Grilled Tai, with a Ginger Shoytu glaze

The fish was given the traditional cross score on the skin, placed in a grilling rack and grilled fast over a hot bed of coals. I had arranged the coals with hotter coals in the middle and just below where the head would be, cooler coals at the thinner tail end. This was to cook the fish more evenly. There are no pictuers as I had three fires going and just needed to focus on not messing up a pricey little 'feesh'.

Detail of meat

It was grilled 4 minites per side, glazing the almost done side while the other side cooked, flipping to cook glasze and glazing the second side, then flipping to cook the glaze, it was plated and served hot. All that was left as a few bones and the skull. A successful grilled whole fish. If you look, the tail looks barely cooked, to me, this means the tail was cooked properly, the entire fish was done to just past rare at the bones, hopefully in that detail shot, you can see the meat is not opaque, it is still a little translucent. It felt good as I rarely cook this way, getting it right was a thrill...I don't acutally eat fish.


  1. I do eat a lot of fish and these photos made me drool. Nice job again, Robert.

  2. No mitsuba, just negi lemon slices ginger shreds and salt and pepper inside. Not vinegar. Someone used it up. Marinade had lemon juice, and mushed ginger with shoyu sato sake, instead and drizzled some in the cavity. Hey, I didn't get any.

  3. Your pictures are gleaming, Bob.
    You don't eat the fish head? That's the only thing I eat in a fish.

  4. Thanks Mai. The other half of the fish head was just bones, by the time we got to flip the fish over, folks were full. It was well eaten.

  5. I usually just go for the brain. :-P