Bizarre Food or a Gourmet Delicacy? Sautéed Salmon Shirako on Polenta

Shirako on polenta n

This Japanese delicacy hasn’t quite caught on in America… yet. But as more and more people try it, they’re discovering what many residents of the Atlantic Gulf Coast have known for generations: this stuff is delicious!

Not long ago daughter Maia reported from Japan that she had just tried shirako. “What?!” I asked in astonishment. “Really? How was it?”

“Oshikatta yo!”

“Hontou ni?”

“Hontou ni!”

Translation: She had dined on the milt sacs of cod and found them to be delicious. “Really?”   “Really!”

With this conversation in mind, I looked dubiously at the pair of milt sacs I’d just removed from a freshly caught Sockeye salmon. I’d done some reading and discovered that “white roe” – the milt sacs of mullet – are a traditional delicacy along the Gulf Coast of America. Packed with nutrition, they definitely belong in the Super Food category as well. “Well, why not,” I mused. “They look like they’re made to be rolled in corn meal, fried up and served with grits.”

That’s all there is to it. And yes, they were delicious. Really!

Sautéed Shirako

Ingredients

  • Fresh milt sacs from salmon, cod, mullet or similar fish
  • corn meal
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt or soy sauce
  • olive oil (or butter or bacon fat)

Directions

  1. Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil, butter or bacon fat in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of cornmeal on a cutting board or plate. Add a little freshly cracked black pepper.
  3. Rinse milt sacs in cold water. Pat dry but leave a little dampness (so cornmeal will attach).
  4. Rolls sacs in cornmeal.
  5. When oil hot enough to gently sizzle, carefully place the sacs in the skillet. Add a few dashes of soy sauce or sprinkle with salt. Lower heat to medium-low.
  6. Sauté for 3 minutes. Gently turn and sauté other side for two or three additional minutes, longer if the sacs are particularly large. Both sides should be crisp and golden.
  7. Serve piping hot with grits or polenta.

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