Saturday, November 12, 2022

Grilled Sanma, a fall delicacy

Autumn wind
Have pity - tell
How a man, alone,
At supper this evening,
Is eating Sanma
Lost in thought

- Song of Sanma by Haruo Sato (1892-1964)

Autumn is often said to increase the appetite particularly when served with Sanma, a typical seasonal fish “Pacific Saury,” silvery-slender like a spearhead about five inches long. Though the Sanma season starts in July, they are mostly caught in autumn due to its spawning season. Large numbers of them travel south along the east coast of Japan to lay their eggs. The later Sanma is caught in autumn, the more flavor and fat you can expect. The seasonality makes them a favorite fish to eat during fall and people look forward to it as the days get shorter and nights cooler.

As Haruo Sato wrote in his poem above, I thought Sanma belonged to us common folk, but today it is seemingly being possessed by the wealthier classes. In October, I enjoyed a Sanma Dinner twice, hoping for another in November.

Usually, Sanma is served grilled with salt along with garlic, lemon, lime or Yuzu and grated Daikon. It may come together with miso soup and some pickles. You will have to deal with a lot of small bones in Sanma, but one gets more skilled as you get older. Sanma is rich in protein and Omega-3 and helps to reduce blood pressure.