Umami Mart Sake
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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).

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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?

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Anyhow, here's how he makes fuguhire zake for his restaurant, Sushi Kuni in Cupertino.

INGREDIENTS
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.

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1. Pour about a cup of sake into a kettle.

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2. Heat sake on stove over medium heat. When steam begins to rise, turn it off.

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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.

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4. Let it char a bit, but try not to let it burn to a crisp.

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5. Grill about four or five of the tails, and drop them into the kettle full of sake.

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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).

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Octoporn


The sake is warm and dashi-like, with smoky notes and a hint of the sea. Not fishy at all.

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Enjoy!

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A great follow-up to the sashimi is nabe (hotpot). A staple meal in every Japanese home during winter.

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Add rice at the very end for a hearty shime (ending).

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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.
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