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Pacific Saury

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Illustrations by John Burgoyne  

Pacific saury is big in Japan—especially in autumn, when it comes into season, and home cooks who prize its taste and affordability often salt-grill it whole. Also known as sanma and mackerel pike, the fish is very high in fatty acids and has a flavor akin to sardines or anchovies. At Greenwich Grill, where Japanese chefs integrate Japanese ingredients into Italian and French dishes, it makes a highly plausible appearance in a puttanesca-like pasta.

Ryutaro Asami’s Fusilli With Pacific Saury

1 Pacific saury (available at Sunrise Mart through early November)
6 ounces fusilli
1 clove garlic, minced
1 dried chili pepper, chopped into large pieces
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup portobello and white button mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup tomato, chopped and salted
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato, chopped
2 shiso leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil for finishing
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 yuzu, for zest

Remove the fish’s head and tail. (1) Gut it, and clean under running water. Pat dry. Cut fish in half. Season both sides of fish with sea salt and pepper. Cook in skillet over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until skin is crisp. Remove from pan and remove backbone and any other visible bones. Cut fish into bite-size pieces. Cook the fusilli in plenty of salted boiling water until just shy of al dente, drain, and reserve pasta and about a cup of cooking water. In a medium skillet over high heat, sauté the garlic and chili pepper in the olive oil until the garlic turns golden. Remove the pepper. (2) Add the mushrooms and continue to sauté, adding in pasta cooking water as needed. Add tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, and the Pacific saury, and continue to cook. Let the mixture simmer until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add the fusilli, and continue to cook for several more minutes. Remove from heat, and plate the pasta. Garnish with torn shiso leaf, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and pine nuts. (3) Grate yuzu over the top. Serves 2.


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