kruizing with kikukat

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Izakaya Food: Kama

When I go to Japanese restaurants, I make it a point to see if kama is on the menu.  Kama is the japanese word for "collar".  It is the part of the fish between the head and the body.  It is also home to very oily morsels of tender fish.  Normal kama choices are salmon and hamachi.  Either choice is a win-win situation.  Of course, kama is not for everyone.  You must at least like fish, and you must not be afraid of picking through bones.  Some people don't like doing this, so if you're one of them, best you stick to fillets, steaks, or sushi.
An almost-guarantee place to find kama is your local izakaya.  While izakaya is quickly becoming a commonly used word amongst the 20-something to 30-something drinking crowd, I learned that many of the older, local Japanese people don't know what an izakaya is.  I mentioned the word to Dad and he was clueless, although he mention that my cousin Lori Ann took him to Yama-Chan, a "bar that served really ono pupus".  I suggested that she took him to an izakaya, and he emphatically replied, "no, was one bar."  Duuuuuuuhhhhh.  I knew better than to ask Mom if Yama-Chan was an izakaya.  But she did say the chicken wings were the best thing she ate on her entire trip to Japan.  Really?  Chicken wings?  Really?

While Dad is just resigned to use the word "bar", I think most people would say Yama-Chan was likely an izakaya, a Japanese-style tavern which serves alcohol and a la carte pupus.  Unfortunately, there is no izakaya in Hilo.  I'm not sure if the Japanese restaurants here serve kama as a regular menu item.   Luckily, Ohana Seafoods (808-843-1844), a honolulu based business, makes two trips to Hilo during the year, one just before Mother's Day, and the other around Thanksgiving.  When they come, I pre-order and use the opportunity to stock up on kama (they have both salmon and hamachi).

Salmon kama is sold in 2 lb. bags.  While there are directions on the bag for preparation, my way is foolproof and works for both salmon and hamachi (you can get this through Ohana Seafoods or at Marukai).  You won't need to guess how much salt to use, and the dipping sauce is the perfect complement.

click on recipe title for printable recipe

     2 lbs. salmon or hamachi kama
     4 tsp rock salt
     5 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
     2 tbsp + 2 tsp sake

Sprinkle salt on both sides of kama.  Sprinkle lemon juice and sake.  Let sit 30 minutes.  Broil in oven or grill on hibachi.  Serve with Ponzu Sauce.

     1 1/2 c dashi
     3 oz. shoyu
     6 oz. rice vinegar

Heat all ingredients together in a small saucepan until reduced by half.  Chill.  Serve with salmon or hamachi kama.

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulously simple recipe for cooking kama! Thank you.