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Have you had dobujiru?

If you have, you must have been to Ibaraki. When I got an invitation to go to Oarai, a small Ibaraki town on the Pacific coast near Mito, to enjoy a pairing of locally brewed sake and this peculiar sounding dish, I was a bit puzzled.

Ibaraki is famous for the winter delicacy, anko or anglerfish, but it is usually served either as anko nabe or the terrine-like ankimo. A seafood nabe is a pot of broth served in winter with lots of boiled vegetables and fish bits. Ankimo is the foie gras of the sea: steamed fatty anglerfish liver served with citrusy ponzu with momiji daikon–grated red pepper and daikon sauce. Only after the meal, I understood why everyone in the group wanted to make a special trip to travel one and half hours on the train from Tokyo for the dish.

At the Oarai Hotel, we first watched the chef do anko-no-tsurushigiri. This is a spectacular show, but a bit on the gruesome side. Basically, you get to watch a guy with warm and relaxed smile dissect a 20kg female anglerfish hanging from a large tripod in the middle of the hotel lobby. He took the approach and style of a biology lab teacher and explained every single part of the flabby reddish mass in anatomical detail and through the life-cycle of the fish. We watched the poor girl get totally reduced to bones.

Then, we observed the same chef prepare dobujiru in front of us. I do not know if such a dish exists, but imagine making stew in a heavy cast iron or earthen pot starting with sauteed foie gras, adding every part of the goose, and finally some vegetables. Imagine the depth of a stew with foie gras as the base. All of this is without any addition of water, resulting in an incredibly intense flavor. If you replace goose with an ugly bottom-feeder fish that consumes any living creature that comes in range of its nasty jaws, I think you get the idea. Just like another winter delicacy, suppon course, the highlight and the finale of the dinner is the risotto-like zosui with rice simmered in such nice broth from the all parts of anko, vegetables, then seasoned with miso.

Here’s the slide show with about 30 pictures that captured the chef in action.

If you have problem playing the slide show, please see if this link to the album works.

If you are curious about the show, here’s the link for the anko-no-tsurushigiri at Oarai Hotel. But, I think it is pretty harsh.

Oarai Hotel
6881 Isohama-cho, Oarai-cho, Ibaraki, Ibaraki
TEL 029-267-2151

Oh, one more thing. According to the hotel site, the name of this pot came from doburoku, unfiltered sake. I am glad to hear that association because I was thinking of the other dobu….


One Response to “Have you had dobujiru?”

  1. The monkfish is not a pretty one!

    Those piks look great!

    Posted by Peko | April 3, 2009, 3:21 pm

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