Back in Cupertino, Kuni (my pops) had a huge bag of fuguhire (dried blowfish tails) from Tsukiji market, which he is grills to make fuguhire zake. These tails are from the blowfish variety tora-fugu or "tiger fugu". Fuguhire zake is a common way to drink hot sake in Japan during the cold winters, at least amongst my father's generation (ojisan aka old men).
Kuni says that it is becoming harder to find these tails in Japan, and they are generally not for sale here in the States. The tora-fugu variety is of the highest quality.
Also, Kuni has his license to slice blowfish, did you know?
Anyhow, here's how he makes fuguhire zake for his restaurant, Sushi Kuni in Cupertino.
A couple blowfish tails, and some cheap sake. Kuni emphasizes that you can use run-of-the-mill, non-premium sake here since you are going to warm it up.
1. Pour about a cup of sake into a kettle.
2. Heat sake on stove over medium heat. When steam begins to rise, turn it off.
3. Take fugu tail with wooden chopsticks and slowly sear it over an open fire. If you have a small grill, that is ideal. You could also put them in the toaster.
4. Let it char a bit, but try not to let it burn to a crisp.
5. Grill about four or five of the tails, and drop them into the kettle full of sake.
6. While you are waiting about five minutes for the fugu tails to infuse the sake, make some accompanying side dishes. Like octopus sashimi and morokyu (cucumbers with miso).
The sake is warm and dashi-like, with smoky notes and a hint of the sea. Not fishy at all.
A great follow-up to the sashimi is nabe (hotpot). A staple meal in every Japanese home during winter.
Add rice at the very end for a hearty shime (ending).
Happy winter! It's cold and dreary here in Oakland. I hope you're all hanging in there, I think it's gonna be a colddddd winter.