Pacific Saury (sanma)


Pacific Saury (Cololabis saira)

***** Location: Japan, northern pacific ocean areas
***** Season: Late autumn
***** Category: Animal


mackerel pike, Pacific saury, saury pike, sanma
秋刀魚 (さんま)
Literally: autumn sword fish
[Cololabis saira]

also called “さいら saira” in Japanese.

net for fishing saury, sanma ami 秋刀魚網(さんまあみ)

CLICK for original LINK !


This is a typical fish that is eaten in autumn everywhere in Japan.

The Chinese characters for the name read: autumn swordfish, as you can see on the picture it is very long and narrow. The belly part shines a beautiful silvery. It is about 30 cm long and fished in great numbers in the northern seas of Japan. In autumn it is full of delicious fat, which makes it an appropriate fish for barbequeing.

Every Japanese eye turns towards heaven and they go “oooooh” if you just mention the name.

Saury is not really gourmet food, it is rather cheap in the season and used to be eaten by the poor folk of EDO. When one family grilled it outside, the whole row house district (nagaya) would smell it and be envious ...

On the map below you can see how it comes down from the colder sea towards Northern Japan.

CLICK for original LINK !

Here is its worth as a food source:

たんぱく質 ・protein・・・・・・・・・   18.5g
ビタミンA・Vitamin A・・・・・・・・・・ 13μg
ビタミンD・Vitamin D・・・・・・・・・・ 19μg
カルシウム・Calcium・・・・・・・・    32mg
鉄分・・・・Iron ・・・・・・・・・・   1.4mg
DHA・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・  1,398mg
EPA・・・・・・・・・・・・・・・   844mg

Gabi Greve


Another delicacy with this fish is a form of sushi 寿司:

This is a sugata-zushi 姿寿司, keeping the whole shape of the fish, whose recipe is to open freshly-harvested saury pike in Kumano-nada which come into season from autumn to winter with its head unchopped-off, soak it in orange vinegar, and put it on rice seasoned with vinegar.

The unique orange flavor tastes better as you chew it, and spreading deep into the mouth is an essential meal for local festivals and New Year.


Meguro no Sanma

Grilling Sanma on a small brazier “Shichirin” and adding some soy sauce is the most popular recipe. “Shichirin” is a traditional Japanese charcoal cooking stove, which was used in many households but gradually gave way to gas cookers. You can still see them used in some barbecue restaurants. There are other ways to serve Sanma, such as in Sushi-style, broiled, boiled, fried and in sashimi-style.

A Meguro citizen might be interested in the famous story of “Meguro-no Sanma” in Rakugo(Japanese traditional sit-down comedy).

The story of “Meguro no Sanma”

A long ago, sometime around the Edo Period, the Shogun felt hungry while he was performing falconry in Meguro. He dropped by a teahouse, where he was served a grilled Sanma (which was ordinary people's every day dish).
He loved it so much and this became the origin of the name “Meguro-no Sanma”.
© www.city.meguro.tokyo.jp

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Monday, Sep. 5, 2011

quote from Japan Times
Soaked Miyako signals return at 'sanma' festival
The organizer of Tokyo's annual "sanma" festival in Meguro Ward on Sunday asked participants to donate money to the town of Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, after the tsunami-ravaged fishing port managed to ship its famed saury to Tokyo in time for the free event.

Miyako is known for its sanma, which are an autumn delicacy. Despite the massive damage inflicted by the March 11 catastrophe, Miyako's fishermen supplied the fish to the festival free of charge, as usual.

"We want to make this smoke from the charcoal fire a sign of our recovery" from the quake and tsunami, a Miyako official in charge of the project said as people chowed down some of the town's 7,000 sanma on a street near JR Meguro Station.

Canned sanma produced by students at Miyako Fisheries High School, which lost a training boat in the tsunami, were also sold at the festival.

The neighborhood of Meguro, which gained notoriety for being mentioned in a "rakugo" (comic storytelling) tale about sanma, began the fish festival 16 years ago.

In one humorous story, "Meguro no Sanma" ("The Saury of Meguro"), a shogun enjoying a grilled sanma in Meguro mistakenly believes the town is famous for catching the fish, although it doesn't have a fishing port.

The fish, in fact, was a cheap and popular food among the poorer residents of Meguro.

source : japantimes.co.jp

. Japan after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011 .


sanma no o hi wa gasagasa to susumu nari

Tail of a Pacific saury ­
The sun goes on
Making low noises



Grilling this fish outside fills the whole valley with mouthwatering smoke, the cats on standby, the tanuki badgers rustling in the bamboo grove for their share of the leftovers too … and the neighbours…

sanma yaki (barbequeing saury)
the valley rejoices in
delicious smells

sanma yaki -
the neighbours quarrel
on hold

Gabi Greve 2004


Pacific saury
smell of the ocean
in my dishwater

Leah Ann Sullivan
Nagoya, Japan

Related words

***** ..... FISH as a kigo




1 comment:

Gabi Greve - WKD said...

目黒さんま祭り Sanma Festival in Meguro

The Meguro Sanma Festival has been taking place every year since 1996.

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