September 19, 2017

Balenine in Baleen Whales/ヒゲクジラ内のバレニン

Baleen whales contain large amounts of balenine. Here is some info about this substance.

Balenine is one type of imidazole dipeptide. Nα-β-Alanyl-1-methyl-L-histidine. Also known as ophidine. It is contained in large quantity in the muscle of a baleen whale, and is considered a biological material having anti-fatigue action.
Balenine was identified from the muscle of a baleen whale for the first time in 1962. In 1976, it was confirmed to exist in the muscle of sperm whales, blue-white dolphins, toads, and common scallops. By 2009, it was found that whereas the muscle of sperm wales did not contain much balenine (several mg per 100 g), it was contained in large quantity in the muscle of minke whales, sei whales, Antarctic minke whales, fin whales, and Bryde's whales (one thousand and several hundred mg per 100 g).

バレニンとは、イミダゾールジペプチドの一つ。Nα-β-アラニル-1-メチル-L-ヒスチジン。別名:オフィジン (ophidine)。ヒゲクジラの筋肉中に多量に含有され、抗疲労作用のある生体物質とされる。
(Source/出典: バレニン)

Two other main types of imidazole dipeptide are carnosine (contained in the breasts of migratory birds, among others) and anserine (contained in migratory fish like tuna, among others).

Here is some info about balenine content.
(Source: PDF file released from the Japan Whaling Association)

Comparison of balenine content (translation by me)
                                                    Balenine (in mg per 100 g)

Tuna                            Red flesh   Not detected
Bonito (skipjack tuna)   Red flesh   Trace
Fin whale                     Red meat  1,466
Minke whale                 Red meat  1,874
Sperm whale                Red meat  553
Cow                             Beef         2 or less
Pig                              Pork          48 or less

September 18, 2017

Whale Meat/鯨肉(くじらにく、げいにく)

The following is an explanation of most of the cuts of whale meat popular in Japan. The Japanese text is from the whale meat entry in the Japanese edition of Wikipedia. The translations and notes are by me. Photos shown here are not mine but copied from the results of Google image searches.

1. Seseri: Tongue. Also called saezuri (lit. singing). Regarded as a high class portion. Fatty on the whole, with the base and the tip differing in flavor. Processed into koro, which used to be(?) used as an oden ingredient in Kansai (Western Japan), among others.
Note: I think the term saezuri is more common for this meaning. The term seseri is more often used to mean the neck meat of a chicken and a type of yakitori (grilled skewered) made with this meat.
1. セセリ - 舌。さえずりともいう。高級部位とされる。付け根と先端でも味が異なり、全体に脂肪が多い。コロに加工されて関西のおでん種等に用いられるなどした。
注: この意味では、「さえずり」のほうが一般的だと思います。「セセリ」は、鶏の首の肉や、その肉を使った焼き鳥を指すのに使われます。
Photo of chicken seseri/鶏のセセリの写真:
Photo of chicken seseri yakitori/鶏のセセリの焼き鳥の写真:
2. Oba (lit. tail wing): Tail or fluke. Fatty and gelatinous. Also called obake or obaike. Salted to make sarashi kujira, described later.
2. オバ(尾羽) - 尾びれ。脂肪とゼラチン質からなる。「おばけ(尾羽毛)」「おばいけ」とも。塩漬にし、後述の「さらしくじら」に用いる。
3. Onomi (lit. tail flesh): Marbled meat at the base of the tail and regarded as the highest class portion today. Also called oniku (lit. tail meat). Used as sashimi and steaks. For a minke whale, the part is less marbled; strictly speaking, a minke whale has hardly any onomi.
3. オノミ(尾の身) - 尾びれの付け根の霜降り肉で、現在は最高級部位とされる。尾肉。刺身やステーキに用いられる。ミンククジラでは霜降り程度が弱く、厳密にはほとんど存在しない。

4. Hime wata (lit. princesses innards): Gullet. Boiled for eating.
4. ヒメワタ(姫腸) - 食道のこと。茹でて食べる。
5. Hyakujo (lit. one hundred tatami mats): Stamach. Boiled for eating.
5. ヒャクジョウ(百畳) - 胃のこと。茹でて食べる。

6. Hyakuhiro (lit. one hundred hiro (where hiro is a length unit (1 hiro = approx. 1.8 m (6 feet))): Small intestines. Boiled for eating.
6. ヒャクヒロ(百尋) - 小腸のこと。茹でて食べる。

7. Mamewata (lit. bean innards): Kidney. Boiled for eating.
7. マメワタ(豆腸) - 腎臓のこと。茹でて食べる。
8. Fukuro wata (lit. bag innards): Lung. Simmered or eaten raw.
8. フクロワタ(袋腸) - 肺。煮物のほか、生食も。
(Can't find an appropriate photo/適切な写真が見つかりません)

9. Karagimo: Liver. Usually not for eating but used to make Kanyu Drops.
9. カラギモ - 肝臓。あまり普通の食用にはせず、肝油ドロップなどにする。
(Can't find an appropriate photo/適切な写真が見つかりません)
Photo of Kanyu Drops/肝油ドロップの写真:
10. Hongawa (lit. real, true, authentic skin): Skin and fat beneath the skin. Used as sashimi and used to make "koro" and "shio kujira" described later.
10. ホンガワ(本皮) - 表皮と皮下脂肪層。刺身のほか、後述の「コロ」や「塩鯨」にする。
11. Kanoko (lit. young deer or fawn): Marbled meat around the joints from jaw to cheeks, with muscle scattering in the fat with a dotted pattern. (Note: The Japanese is hard to translate and understand.) Although marbled, tougher to chew than onomi. Used in harihari nabe or eaten as sashimi.
11. カノコ(鹿の子) - あごからほほにかけての関節周辺の肉で、鹿の子状に脂肪の中に筋肉が散り、霜降り状態のもの。同じ霜降り肉でも、尾の身より歯ごたえがある。はりはり鍋や刺身で食べる。

12. Akaniku (lit. red meat): Red meat. Less fatty portion such as dorsal meat and ventral meat. Also called akami niku. The largest portion that accounts for 30-40% of the total production. Used to be supplied for school lunches. Used for kujira katsu (breaded and deep-fried whale cutlets) and tatsuta age (meat seasoned, dusted with katakuriko (potato starch), and deep-fried. Often used as sashimi today.
12. アカニク(赤肉) - 背肉、腹肉などの脂肪の少ない部位。赤身肉。生産量の30-40%を占める最も多い部位であり、かつての学校給食にも供給された。鯨カツや竜田揚げのほか、現在では刺身にも多く用いる。
Tatsuta age/竜田揚げ
Kujira katsu/鯨カツ
13. Shiro de mono: Opposite of akaniku (red meat). Generic term for fatty portions beneath the skin, such as hongawa. Also called hironiku (white meat).
13. シロデモノ(白手物) - 赤肉の対語。本皮などの皮下脂肪部分の総称。白肉。

14. Unesu: Striped and indented meat from lower jaw to belly of a baleen whale. Used to make bacon and boiled for eating.
14. ウネス(畝須) - ヒゲクジラの下あごから腹にかけての縞模様の凹凸部分の肉。ベーコン材料のほか茹でても食す。
15. Hige (lit. whisker, beard, etc.): The baleen of a young right whale was used for human consumption. Also used as a raw material for substitute soy sauce.
15. ヒゲ - 若いセミクジラのクジラヒゲが食用にされた例もある。代用醤油の原料にも使われた。
(Can't find an appropriate photo/適切な写真が見つかりません)

16. Kohige: Gum. May be thinly cut for human consumption.
16. コヒゲ - 歯茎の部分。薄く切って食用にすることがある。
(Can't find an appropriate photo/適切な写真が見つかりません)

17. Kabura bone: Cartridge tissue inside the upper jaw bone. Used for Matsuura zuke and Genkai zuke (both being types of pickle). In the Edo period, processed into a delicacy called kujirano shi or horihori.
17. カブラボネ(かぶら骨) - 上あごの骨の内部にある軟骨組織。松浦漬や玄海漬に用いるほか、江戸時代には鯨熨斗(くじらのし。ホリホリとも。)という珍味にも加工された。

18. Takeri: Penis. In the Edo period, considered medicinal.
18. タケリ - ペニス。江戸時代には薬効があると称された。
19. Kinso: Testis. Boiled for eating.
19. キンソウ - 睾丸。茹でて食べる。
(Can't find an appropriate photo/適切な写真が見つかりません)

20. Hina (chick?): Clitoris. Boiled for eating.
ヒナ - クリトリス。
(Can't find an appropriate photo/適切な写真が見つかりません)

Processed products:

1. Koro: Made by deep-frying whale meat, squeezing the oil, and drying the rest. Loved by Osaka people. It was initially supposed to be a recycled product, but was produced actively later. Besides common koro (also called irigawa, lit. roasted skin) made of hongawa, also available are saekoro, made of tongue, dabu kasu, made of innards. Koro made from sperm whales was popular among ordinary people. In Kagoshima, koro is called seshikara.
1. 鯨肉を揚げて油を絞った残りを乾燥させたもの。大阪で好まれ、本来は再利用であったはずが、積極的な生産対象にまでなった。本皮を原料とした一般的なコロ(煎皮とも)のほか、舌を原料としたサエコロ、内臓のダブ粕などがある。マッコウクジラのものが庶民には親しまれた。鹿児島ではセシカラと呼ぶ。
2. Ude mono: Generic term for any of various innards such as hyakuhiro that are boiled.
2. ウデモノ(茹で物) - 百尋ほか各種内臓を茹でたものの総称。

3. Suehiro: Boiled unesu. The term is mainly used in Nagasaki. The term derives from the fact that suehiro has a cross section that spreads out wide toward the end. Thinly sliced and eaten with soy sauce and ginger juice, etc.
3. 末広 - 畝須を茹でたもので、主に長崎での呼び名。断面が末広がりであることに由来。薄く切り生姜醤油などで食す。
(Can't find an appropriate photo/適切な写真が見つかりません)

4. Shio kujira: Salted hongawa. It has been distributed even in mountainous areas since times, used for kujira jiru (soup) and nimono (simmered dishes).
4. 塩鯨 - 本皮を塩漬けにしたもの。古くから山間部までかなり広く流通し、鯨汁や煮物に用いられてきた。
5. Sarashi kujira: Salted obake (oba in 2. above) thinly sliced, put in hot water, and then soaked in cold water. Eaten with su-miso (vinegar and miso sauce). This dish is called obake, just like the ingredient, and is also called oba yuki (snow), and hana (flower) kujira because of its white transparent apperance. Shio kujira on hongawa can also be cooked in the same way. (Note: I can't tell what it means.)
5. さらしくじら - 塩漬の尾羽毛を薄く切って熱湯をかけ、冷水でさらしたもの。酢みそで食べる。これも「おばけ」などと呼ぶほか、白く透明な外見から「おば雪」「花くじら」とも。本皮の塩鯨も同様に調理できる。

6. Kujira bacon: Unesu that is salted and then smoked. It is often colored red on the surface. Thinly sliced and then slightly roasted over fire for eating. Hongawa may be used as a substitute because of the shortage of the raw material (unesu).
6. くじらベーコン - 畝須を塩漬けにしてから燻製にしたもの。表面が赤く着色されていることが多い。薄切りしたものを軽く火であぶるなどして食べる。原料の不足から、本皮で代用されることもある。

September 13, 2017

Canned Kujira Yamato-Ni/鯨大和煮の缶詰

Yesterday, I bought a can of kujira yamato-ni at a local drug store.
Kujira = Whale
Yamato-ni = Nimono (simmered dish) heavily seasoned with sugar, soy sauce, ginger, etc.
Yamato-ni is made with not only whale meat but also other meats such as chicken, beef, mutton, venison, and horse meat.
Canned kujira yamato-ni is nothing new; you can easily find it at any supermarkets in Japan.
When I was a child (I was born in 1960), whale meat was one of the cheapest sources of protein in Japan, but now, it is as expensive as domestic beef. Yesterday, I found raw whale meat sold for 298 yen per 100 g at a local supermarket.
This particular product (solid content of 50 g and total amount of 80 g) was 298 yen, and it is a bit of a luxury item for me.
鯨(くじら、クジラ) = Whale
大和煮 = 砂糖、しょう油、生姜などで濃い味付けをした煮物。
私が小さい頃(生まれは1960年)、日本では鯨肉は最も安価の蛋白源の一つでしたが、今では、国産の牛肉と同じくらいの値段です。昨日、地元のスーパーで生の鯨肉が100 g 298円で売られていました。
この製品(固形量50 g、総量80 g)は、298円で、私にとってはちょっとした贅沢品です。

The label says: This product is a byproduct of the research whaling conducted by the Institute of Cetacean Research (ICR) in accordance with the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling. The capture waters are identified by WAO (Antarctic Ocean) or WNP (Northwest Pacific Ocean) on the can lid. The species is identified by M (mink), N (Bryde's), or I (Sei) on the top row(?) of the can lid.
こう書かれています: 本製品は国際捕鯨取締条約にもとづいて、(一財)日本鯨類研究所が実施した捕獲調査の副産物です。捕獲海域は南氷洋(WAO)、北西太平洋(WNP)と缶蓋に記載しております。鯨の種類は、ミンククジラ(M)、ニタリクジラ(N)、イワシクジラ(I)を缶蓋の上段(?)に記載しております。

August 24, 2017

Uni in a Milk Bottle/牛乳瓶入りのウニ

Uni is a Japanese word for sea urchin or sea urchin gonad.
ウニとは、sea urchinやsea urchinの性腺、生殖腺のことです。

I learned about uni in a milk bottle from Yamako Katagiri Sengyo Ten, a fishmonger located in Kamaishi city, Iwate prefecture, back in 2009, as I described here. My family had the uni as toppings for nigiri sushi like this. At that time, I vaguely assumed that selling uni in such a unique style was the fishmonger's idea.

The August 10, 2017 edition of the famous TV show, Himitsu no Kenmin Show, which featured uni in a milk bottle, has clarified everything about this product. You can still watch this edition of the show by clicking dailymotion video, although it has no subtitles in English.
2017年8月10日のテレビ番組「秘密のケンミンSHOW!」は、牛乳瓶入りのウニを取り上げており、これで、このウニに関してすべて明らかになりました。dailymotion videoをクリックすれば、その番組を見ることができます(英語の字幕はありませんが)。

Here are some bits of information that I have learned from the edition:

It is said that putting fresh uni in a milk bottle started in Yamada machi (town), Iwate prefecture about 50 years ago. Before then, uni were sold in bags to customers nearby. To deliver them to distant customers, a more sturdy container was necessary. One day, a certain uni shop put uni in an empty milk bottle that happened to be there. Uni in a milk bottle has become popular throughout Iwate prefecture ever since because the milk bottle can be tightly sealed, keeps the uni from disintegrating during transport, and is transparent, making the uni look beautiful.

Uni in a milk bottle are additive free. To have uni in a milk bottle, you need not use soy sauce for seasoning, because the bottle contains sterile seawater, which makes the uni taste sweeter to the taste buds. (Before having the uni, I drained them. I should have done that!)

Uni arranged neatly in a wooden container are called ita uni. Usually, alum is used to keep such uni from disintegrating.
Images of ita uni/板ウニのイメージ

One milk bottle can contain about 30 large pieces (gonads) or 50 small ones. Kita murasaki uni (Northern sea urchin) is a popular variety in Iwate prefecture.

In Iwate prefecture, uni is called kaze.

My father's birthday is in late August, when uni are not in season. I was thinking about presenting him some cheap uni imported from Chile, available from a local supermarket, just when I received an email from Yamako Katagiri Sengyo Ten, saying that they would get uni after a long interval. I immediately placed an order for two bottles. They have arrived today.

Great present for my father's 89th birthday!

Edited to add some photos on Aug. 27:

On the morning of August 25, my father had half the uni in one bottle for breakfast, with vinegared rice. Here is a photo of the remaining half.
He had the remaining half for lunch the same day.

The expiration date of the uni was August 27. Here is a photo of the uni in the other milk bottle on the morning of August 27.
Just like he did with the first bottle, my father had the half of it for breakfast with vinegared rice.

August 4, 2017

Making Blueberry Jam, Using Ume/梅を使って、ブルーベリージャムを作る

On August 2, my father got more than 2 kg of frozen blueberries from a neighbor.
I was given the assignment of turning them into jam. I first thought it was an easy task.
I first put the 2 kg of blueberries in two Tupperware containers, microwaved each container with 300 g of sugar in a 600-W microwave oven for a total of 4 x 3 = 12 minutes.
まず2キロのブルーベリーを2つのタッパー容器に入れ、各容器に砂糖を300 g入れて600Wの電子レンジで合計4 x 3 = 12分加熱しました。
Very watery. I left them overnight to see how the texture would change.
On the early morning of August 3, I checked them and found they were still watery. My father tasted some, and didn't like it. I decided to simmer them in an enameled pot for 20-30 minutes.

I added 400 g of sugar to the pot to make the blueberry to sugar ratio 2 to 1. I simmered them for 30 minutes. Still quite watery.
鍋に砂糖を400 g入れて、ブルーベリーと砂糖の割合を2:1にし、30分煮ました。まだかなり水っぽいです。
I decided to add two of the eight ripe ume that had been sitting in the freezer to add pectin.

After simmering for several minutes, I checked to see if the added ume had changed the flavor of the contents of the pot. I found that the ume had enhanced the flavor. The texture was still watery, however.

I later added two more.
Still watery. I decided to add all the remaining four ume.
I also added 200 g of sugar so that the jam would contain 60% sugar.
また、ジャム砂糖含有量が6割になるよう、砂糖を200 g足しました。

Still not quite jam-like texture. I decided to leave it overnight.

This early morning, I checked the texture to find it was slightly thicker than last night.

This time, I got an OK from my father. I rinsed four empty blueberry jam glass bottles with running water, and microwaved them, two at a time, in a 600-W microwave oven for one and a half minutes in an attempt to sterilize them.
My father consumes a considerable amount of store-bought blueberry jam with yogurt every morning. Luckily, I have saved some of the empty bottles.
The jam made from 2 kg of blueberries and 1.2 kg of sugar filled the four glass bottles.

I told my father that these four bottles contained eight ume seeds and that he should be careful when consuming the jam.

Why did I add ume, you might ask. Lemon juice is usually added as a source of pectin, but I didn't want to drive just to get some lemon juice. Ume contain a considerable amount of pectin, and besides, I know from the home-made grape jelly that ume have a potential to enhance the flavor of another type of fruit.