Taste the 'sleet' in this winter dish of simmered fish with grated daikon

Mackerel simmered with grated radish.
Mackerel simmered with grated radish. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MARI NAMESHIDA

(THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - After an overindulgent Thanksgiving and Christmas season in the United States, my body feels like it has gained some weight.

 
Some of you may feel the same way after the new year, so today, I want to share a recipe for a light refreshing dish — mizore-ni, simmered fish or meat served with grated daikon radish.
 
Mizore means sleet and the “-ni” suffix indicates that the dish is simmered.
 
The name — mizore-ni or simmered sleet — is likely derived from the appearance of grated radish atop the fish or meat resembling sleet. Is it not interesting that people have compared grated radish to sleet?
 
As the grated daikon is cooked in a dashi broth until translucent, the refreshing sweetness of the radish permeates the dish. It is not a heavy dish, but has the satisfying taste of comfort food.
 
Daikon is common in Japan, especially in winter when the harvest is at its peak, and this dish is a great example of how Japanese people often try to reflect the season in their cooking.
 
I usually use fish such as saba mackerel, or sometimes chicken thigh, when cooking mizore-ni.
 
To tell the truth, this recipe is based on one my mother learnt 50 years ago in Hokkaido. In my childhood, I used to eat it often in winter.
 
However, after I left my home town, I did not see the dish at any restaurants. That is why I started to cook it myself.
 
Saba is a popular fish in Japan and you can find it at any supermarket or fish store.
 
If I find fresh sashimi-quality mackerel, I often make shime-saba, saba marinated in vinegar and salt, or shio-yaki, salted grilled fish.
 
Otherwise, I make miso-ni, fish simmered in a miso-based sauce, or mizore-ni using this recipe.
 
Fish breeds such as mackerel tend to go well with strongly flavoured sauces or vinegar. Needless to say, if you find that the fish has an excessively fishy odour, it probably is not fresh. Also, be sure to choose a fish with clear eyes as this is another way to help verify the freshness of fish.
 
Mackerel is rich in nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and various vitamins, so it is a great fish to use in meals for children.
 
However, if you do not like mackerel, you may use chicken thigh or chicken meatballs as a substitute in this recipe. Even vegetables such as bell pepper or eggplant can be used.
 

Mari’s recipe for mackerel simmered with radish

 

INGREDIENTS (serves six)

600-800g saba mackerel fillets
½ daikon radish (or 2 cups grated daikon)
1 or 2 naganegi long onions
1 piece ginger (30 grams), grated
5 scallions
2 cups dashi broth (400 ml)
A little flour, cooking oil, salt
 
SEASONINGS
4 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp rice vinegar
 
METHOD
1. Slice the naganegi long onions into 5mm-wide pieces.
2. Cut fish into 3cm pieces. After sprinkling with a pinch of salt, leave for 10 minutes then pat dry. Coat with flour, then pan-fry or deep-fry until the fish is cooked or becomes crispy on the outside.
3. Combine seasonings and dashi in a pot and bring to a boil. Be sure to reduce the heat when it starts to boil or the flavour will be lost. Add grated ginger and fish, skin-side up, to the pot.
4. When the pot returns to a boil, add grated daikon and simmer a few more minutes.
5. Place the fish on a plate. Pour the simmered daikon soup over it and, finally, top with chopped scallions.