Japan: Tsukiji fish market + sashimi breakfast

Note: This is a photo heavy post! And a warning to anyone who may be squeamish or who doesn’t like to see dead animals, there’s lots of pictures of dead fish ahead.

Tsukiji fish market

While in Tokyo, we visited the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market / Tsukiji fish market to see the tuna auction. We left our ryokan (inn) at the insane time of 4.50am to get there in time, as the tuna auctions start at 5.20am and finish around 7am.

Tsukiji fish market

I had heard lots about this market – that it is the largest seafood market in the world and that it handles over 2,000 tons of seafood per day and more than 400 different types of seafood. Well, I knew the market was busy, but I didn’t know just how busy. And no one had ever said to keep an eye out for the death barrels!

Tsukiji fish market

What’s a death barrel, you say? That thing up there is a death barrel. There were hundreds and hundreds of these things, whizzing around at top speed, barely slowing for other oncoming death barrels and hapless tourists. There was a ban on tourists visiting the tuna auction between Dec 08 and Jan 09, and after being there, I’m kinda surprised that they lifted the ban. I’m surprised that they let tourists visit at all! The market is REALLY busy and I felt like I was constantly in the way (and about to be run over by a death barrel).

Tuna auction at Tsukiji fish market

Tuna auction at Tsukiji fish market

Nevertheless, we made it to the tuna auction area safely. One of the changes the market made after lifting the ban is that tourists can only view the auction in a designated observation area and no flash photography is allowed. Well, the observation area is a skinny little area of the floor that has been cordoned off, and it’s pretty tiny. We managed to just squeeze ourselves in to get a look at the action. It was fairly difficult to stay there for long as there were so many people – most people just seemed to content themselves in taking a couple of photos and then leaving.

Tuna auction at Tsukiji fish market

Tuna auction at Tsukiji fish marketBuyers checking the quality of the fish

After being in the tuna auction area for a while, we left and had a wander around the seafood stalls. So much seafood!

Tsukiji fish market

Tsukiji fish market

Tsukiji fish market

Tsukiji fish market

Tsukiji fish market

Tsukiji fish market

There was lots of interesting seafood for sale. I wish I knew what everything was!

Tsukiji fish market

Tsukiji fish market
Fresh wasabi – so amazing!

We also had a walk around the vegetable and fruit section. This was MUCH more sedate than the seafood area.

Sashimi breakfast at Tsukiji fish market

Afterwards, we stopped at one of the small restaurants inside the market for a sashimi breakfast. The tiny shop seated 10 people along a counter. During our breakfast, the owner gave us Japanese lessons. He was a real character!

Sashimi breakfast at Tsukiji fish market

On the plate we had tuna, bonito, octopus, a raw prawn/shrimp, and a cooked prawn. I particularly loved the bonito. It had a melt in the mouth texture and was delicious. The raw prawn/shrimp was also a revelation – it was very sweet and creamy. We were told that they were a specific kind called sweet shrimp.

Along with the sashimi, there was also rice, miso soup and pickles. They barely got a look in – it was all about the sashimi. Gosh it was a memorable meal, it was some of the best sashimi I’ve ever eaten, and definitely the best sashimi we ate on our trip!

Plane food: Cathay Pacific

And we are back! We had a fantastic time in Japan and I have many, many food tales and a gazillion photos.

We flew to Japan on Cathay Pacific via Hong Kong, mostly so I could stop there and hang out with my mum on the way back. It was really nice to have that time there (even though it was stinking hot and busy).

On our first flight, from Melbourne to Hong Kong, we were served dinner and breakfast.

Dinner was a choice between braised shredded pork with preserved vegetables in light soya sauce and steamed rice or pan-fried basa with tomato, parsley and lemon myrtle sauce, mashed poatoes with green peas. There was also a vegetarian pasta choice.

Cathay Pacific food

I had the pork. It was okay. Nothing amazing but still edible.

Cathay Pacific food

Alastair had the fish. His meal looked like it was the better choice.

Cathay Pacific food

There was also coleslaw with salami and a little lamington for dessert.

Cathay Pacific food
Cathay Pacific food
Cathay Pacific food

There was no choice for breakfast – it was a croissant, a pastry, a muffin, fruit, and yoghurt. A bit too much sugar for my liking.

Cathay Pacific food

It was a short flight from Hong Kong to Japan, and we were served lunch. Thank goodness too, because we hadn’t eaten. This was Alastair’s lunch, and for the life of me I cannot remember what it was. Chicken? With rice?

Cathay Pacific food

And my lunch – fish with rice. It was fine.

Cathay Pacific food

On our way home, from Japan to Hong Kong, Alastair and I both choose the chicken (with rice, natch!). Note the little Tim Tam for dessert!

Cathay Pacific food

After a busy stop over in HK, we then headed home to Melbourne. On the flight back home, we were served dinner and breakfast. For dinner, Alastair choose the fish with potatoes. This looked pretty good. Better than my choice…

Cathay Pacific food

Which was pork strips with rice. It was okay, but it was pretty similar to all the other meals on Cathay Pacific thus far!

Cathay Pacific food

There was an ice cream for dessert. No lamingtons this time.

Cathay Pacific food

And breakfast was similar to when we flew out to Japan. There was a warm bread roll thingie with mushrooms and cheese, a muffin and a little pastry. The bread thing was quite nice but I found the muffin too sweet and couldn’t stomach more than a bite of the pastry.

All in all, economy food on Cathay Pacific? Pretty average, with the meals being mostly uninspired. The price of being in cattle class, I suppose! Ho hum. Fortunately the food we ate in Japan was a million times better – stay tuned for more!

Bagels

Note: This is a scheduled post – Alastair and I are currently in Hong Kong and will be back home soon. Normal programming will resume shortly!

At my old job, I had a terrible habit of not taking breakfast to work, and buying breakfast at the cafe in our building. I also had a bad habit of taking breakfast into work, not eating it, and buying something instead. Gaaah.

Finally, something clicked, and I realised I was doing this because I didn’t like what I had planned for breakfast! I kept buying bagels for breakfast, and “ding ding” I realised that I could just make my own.

Bagelicious

So I did! And they were awesome. They were very chewy, which I do like, but due to the chewiness I preferred them toasted rather than fresh. I stashed several in the freezer for future breakfasts.

The recipe says that when the bagels are put into the water for boiling, they should sink first and then rise back to the surface. Mine all floated – and rather annoying, there was nothing to indicate how to make them more “bagely” so they would sink. And for some reason, when they came out of the water, they were all lumpy! So not very attractive, but I managed to hide the lumpiness with sesame seeds and poppy seeds.

Bagelicious

Bagels

The recipe is from here. I have rewritten it to make it easier to follow, but I recommend you read it through because it has some useful tips.

6-8 cups bread flour
4 tablespoons instant yeast
6 tablespoons sugar or light honey
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups hot water
Vegetable oil
Water for boiling
3-5 tablespoons malt syrup or sugar
A few handfuls of cornmeal (I used fine polenta)

Pour 3 cups of warm water in a large bowl. Stir in the sugar or honey. Sprinkle the yeast over and stir to dissolve. Set it aside for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, the yeast should be nice and foamy (if this doesn’t happen, start again with new yeast!). Add 3 cups of flour as well as the salt to the yeast mixture and start mixing it in. Add more flour, half a cup at a time, mixing each addition thoroughly before adding more. Eventually, it will become a stiff dough (you may not need all the flour).

Turn out on to a clean, dry countertop and knead until it is smooth and elastic. It should be heavy and stiffer than a normal bread dough.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Leave the bowl in a dry, warm place and leave it to rise until it is doubled in volume (I left mine for a couple of hours).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. When the dough has risen, get the boiling water ready. Get a large pot and fill it with a generous amount of water. Put it on high heat and let the water come to the boil. When it reaches a boil, add the syrup or sugar and turn down the heat so the water barely simmers.

Turn out your dough on to a clean work surface, punch it down, and divide into about 16 even-sized pieces. To form the bagels, shape the dough into a long cylindrical snake shape. Wrap it around a rolling pin, push the two ends together to join, and then roll the bagel up and down the rolling pin to smooth out the sides.

When all the bagels are formed, let them rest for 10 minutes. They will rise slightly, ideally by about 1/4th volume.

One by one, drop the bagels into the pot of simmering water. Only have two or three bagels in the water at a time – and they will puff up so watch out for it. The bagels should sink first and then flat to the top. Let the bagel simmer for three minutes then turn it over and simmer for another three minutes.

Lift the bagel out of the water and set on to a clean kitchen towel. The bagels should be shiny, due to the malt syrup/sugar in the boiling water.

When all the bagels have been boiled, sprinkle baking trays with cornmeal. Arrange the bagels on top, put them in the oven, and bake for about 25 minutes. Turn them over and bake for another 10 minutes. This helps to prevent flat bottomed bagels.

Remove from the oven and let them cool completely on wire racks before slicing.

Horoki: lunch

Note: This is a scheduled post. Alastair and I are still in Japan and will be off to HK in the next couple of days!

At my old job, JC (a colleague) and I would tally up favours that we would do for each other. We would mark up the favours on a whiteboard, and from the beginning I was waaaaaaaaaay out in front.

JC offered to take me to lunch before I left work. I’m sure it was a way to equalise the favours board but I never say no to a lunch!

Horoki

We went to Horoki. During lunchtime, they do a lunch platter for $13.90. You choose rice or bread, and then you pick three items off a list of about ten items. For an extra $2 you can also have a bowl of miso soup.

I choose….

Horoki

The tuna and tofu salad – discs of lovely soft tofu, flaked tuna and salad. I loved the dressing on top – a sweetish, nutty, sesame sauce.

Horoki

The mini scotch fillet steak with onion sauce. Some tender beef and a bit of green!

Horoki

And the salmon and spinach croquettes – deep fried mashed potato with salmon and spinach.

I think it’s a great value lunch. Even though the servings of the three items are small, it’s just the right amount for lunch. Everything is tasty and beautifully presented.

Read about a previous visit to Horoki here

Horoki
19 Liverpool St
Melbourne 3000
Phone: 9663 2227

Horoki: Dinner

Note: This is a scheduled post, Alastair and I are currently eating our way through Japan!

A couple of weeks ago, Alastair and I had dinner with Maria and Daz at Horoki. We ordered several dishes to share.

Horoki

The first item out was a sashimi and daikon salad. The salad consisted of finely shredded daikon, salad, shredded seaweed, cherry tomatoes, fish roe and soy based dressing. Around the sides of the salad was several pieces of sashimi. The salad was great – crispy, salty, and fresh. I particularly loved the bursts of salty flavour that the seaweed provided.

Horoki

Next was octopus in garlic butter. This was served with bread – perfect for soaking up all that garlicky buttery goodness!

Horoki

We ordered four stuffed chicken wings (styled by Maria!). The wings had been deboned and stuffed with leeks (?) and… I forget what else! I do remember that they were juicy and delicious.

Horoki

This isn’t something that I normally would have ordered, but I’m glad that Maria and Daz did! This is the Teriyaki chicken pizza. The thin crispy base was topped with cheese, teriyaki chicken, seaweed and spring onions.

Horoki

We ordered two serves of the soft shell crab. Goodness knows what has happened with the photo! The soft shell crab had been battered, deep fried and was served with a lemon mayonnaise. We knew when we ordered that we would enjoy it – hence the two serves – and it met our expectations. Yum.

Horoki

And last came the roast duck and eggplant – slices of roast duck laid out on slices of eggplant and in a dark plumish(?) type sauce.

I really like the food at Horoki and thoroughly enjoyed dinner.

Read about a previous visit to Horoki here

Horoki
19 Liverpool St
Melbourne 3000
Phone: 9663 2227