PBS to feature Japanese seafood

Published on
September 16, 2009

"Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert" filmed last week in Matsuyama and Uwajima on Japan's Shikoku Island. The episode, focusing on seafood, will air in the United States on the Public Broadcasting Service. The broadcast schedule is yet to be determined.

Yellowtail (hamachi) and sea bream (madai) are farmed near Shikoku Island and will be prominent in the segment. Eckert refers to sea bream as "snapper."

"I'd be happy to call it a sea bream," Eckert told SeafoodSource, "but I don't think Americans would know what that is."

Eckert and his crew visited the local fish market and ate yellowtail in six different preparations for breakfast and lunch, along with a grilled sea bream on cold somen noodles. His favorite dishes were yellowtail carpaccio and yellowtail shabu-shabu.

The next day, the crew boated to Hiburi Island to observe feeding of yellowtail and harvesting of sea bream. The fish were bled immediately after harvest to maintain flavor and freshness, and then transported in ice water to port for quick processing.

In the afternoon, Eckert sampled sashimi dishes and sake at Kaisen Hokuto, a seaside restaurant in Matsuyama. Sake, like wine, has different levels of sweetness and acidity, and should be paired to complement the fish without overpowering it, explained Hiroshi Suto, president of restaurant operator Seiryo Syuzo Co. Ltd.

A sweet dessert sake was served cold with a sea bream head and collar cooked in sweet sauce, while a mellow dry sake served at 52 degrees Celsius matched tiger pufferfish (fugu) sashimi, a winter dish.

The pufferfish came from one of the restaurant's large live tanks and was served with a small amount of skin and liver. These parts are potentially lethal. However, farmed pufferfish on strictly controlled diets are not poisonous. In any event, the chef assured Eckert that he had a license, before adding, in jest, that it may have expired.

There have been more than 200 episodes of Culinary Travels with Dave Eckert.

"I don't want it to be just me eating," said Eckert, referring to the show's concept. "I want to draw a line from the source to the table. Local producers are so proud of their region and their specialties; I want to capture that."

Eckert was invited to Japan as part of an effort by Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to promote Japan's cuisine and boost its food exports. The government has also invited camera crews from Singapore and Hong Kong to Kagoshima, in southern Kyushu Island, and Aomori, in the far north of Honshu Island. Kagoshima is also famous for yellowtail, while Aomori is known for tuna.

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Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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