January 17, 2013

Japanify: His’n'Hers* (Herring Egg + Sperm Sacs)

by yoko

Last week, I shared a bowl of nishin soba with you, and I asked you to not to throw out the egg and sperm sacs. I have two recipes that will have you wondering why people would ever throw them out in the first place. Personally, I look forward to the herring shirako and kazunoko more than the adult flesh itself.

Both are very simple recipes as you really don’t need to do much to these flavor sacs.

For those who are a little squeamish about eating sperm sacs, think of them as the male counterpart of eggs. And we have no problem with eggs right? They are all over our breakfasts and show up in most of our baked goods. I’d say it’s sexism to deliciously indulge in eggs and completely ignore sperm. The Japanese have considered shirako (fish sperm sacs aka “milt“) to be a delicacy for ages and I understand why. Kayoko has described them to taste like oysters, others have talked about similarities to liver and butter.

As for fish egg sacs, we’ve written about many tarako (cod roe) and ikura recipes. Every little sphere releases a burst of the ocean and serves as a perfect compliment to crackers, rice, bread, etc. I’ve heard from my friend from Florida, that they fry up cod roe sacs and put them in sandwiches. Forget Disney World, take me to Clearwater, please!


Top: Sperm sacs, Bottom: Fish sacs

His’n'Hers* Fried

INGREDIENTS
8 sperm or egg sacs from 4 herring (it’s like the lottery, you won’t know what you get until you clean the fish)
3 tablespoons of katakuriko (potato starch) or corn starch
1 tsp of fresh ground pepper
Sea salt
EVOO

METHOD

1. Mix the katakuriko and pepper together.

2. Dredge the sacs in the powder mixture.

3. Heat about a tablespoon of EVOO in a frying pan on high.

4. When it’s super hot, sear the sacs in the frying pan until light brown.

Sperm…


Searing sacs!

Eggs…

5. Plate on some paper towels so it’s not an oil fest.

6. Sprinkle some sea salt and enjoy!

His’n'Hers* Marinated

INGREDIENTS
24 sperm or egg sacs from 12 herring (adjust the rest of the portions accordingly if you are using more or less)
3 tbsp EVOO
3 tbsp rice vinegar or 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp sea salt
1/2 onion or 1 shallot thinly sliced (preferably with a mandolin)

METHOD

1. Combine EVOO, vingar and sea salt in a bowl and set aside.

2. Blanch the sacs in boiling water for 1 minute and transfer to a collander for a few minutes.

3. Place the sacs into a resealable container.

4. Pour EVOO mixture over the sacs.

5. Layer the top with thin slices of onions or shallots.

6. Place saran wrap over the top and place a weight on top.

7. Leave for 24 hours and enjoy.

I am sorry I don’t have a finished product shot. It was gone before I could take a photo! 24 sacs sound like a lot but it was gone in one sitting with a party of five. Initial apprehension, followed by a taste, followed by second and third helpings.

If I asked my guests from that night “Do you remember the first time (you ate fish sacs)?”** ten years from now, I am fairly confident they’ll be able to name the year and place.

* A nod to the Pulp album.
** Another nod.

4 Comments

  • Moto
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    You should salt cure egg sacs and make darn good kazunoko. I still haven’t had an opportunity to encounter these fresh sacs in NYC.

  • Yoko
    Posted January 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Yeah. I was thinking of making kazunoko but everyone around me (kayoko and washi) isn’t that into kazunoko.

  • Kayoko
    Posted January 18, 2013 at 2:54 am

    I am sure I would love your kazunoko. I recently had kazunoko with red chili flakes. That was spicy and good.

  • Johnny
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I still crave those marinated Herring sacks from your dinner a few months ago. It was so good!

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