Quirky Japan: Eating Daggertooth Pike Conger

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Japan has a “foodie” culture and presentation and delicate tastes are very important at restaurants. They also eat everything that comes from the sea including the summertime Kansai (name for the western region of Japan where we live in Osaka) dish, hamo. It is in the foreground in the photo above and served with beefsteak leaf, wasabi paste and either a spicy red sauce or mustard. It was delicious but when I looked up the English name for hamo, I found it was dagger-tooth pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus) a type of eel. It lives on the sandy bottoms of oceans up to 100 meters deep.

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Hamo is best in the summer and I love the seasonality of seafood. Fish are best to eat at certain times of the year and each season brings with it new fish and other creatures to try. I am trying to learn all of the different seasonal fish and also learning how to prepare them. I never grew up eating much seafood, but really like it and I know that it is very healthy for me. One of the starters was the summer noodle, somen, which is in the foreground in the photo below. It is served cold. I had these dishes at Fujiya a restaurant close to the kitaguchi-nishinomiya station.

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People like to socialize and drink over meals in Japan. Restaurants rather than bars and dance clubs are less popular than restaurants. Meals last a long time and are many courses. It must be the Japanese metabolism that keeps people thin here because when they go out, they eat a lot. Below was my kanji lesson for the night. The top part is the kanji for white and the bottom has a portion for bird and go forward, which signifies “white hawk” and it is a type of sake. I would like to learn more about how sake is made and the different types of sake.

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