Sauteed “Ankimo” Monkfish liver with simmered Nagaimo 鮟肝と長芋

japanese cake
Last time we had a shipment of sashimi from Catalina, as usual, we also got frozen ankimo 鮟肝 or monkfish liver. I thawed it one weekend thinking we would eat it that evening. But we had impromptu dinner guests who, most likely, would not have appreciated ankimo and we did not serve it. So, the next day and the day after, we had to finish it before it went bad (eating that much ankimo was tough job but someone had to do it). Besides my usual ankimo with grated daikon and ponzu sauce or with orange marmalade sauce, I needed to come up with a new way to eat ankimo. I got an idea from the sauteed ankimo and simmered daikon dish that I saw on the web (It came from a beautifully done blog, I highly recommend the blog but it is in Japanese). I also remembered that I had said I would post a simmered nagaimo dish next after posting several ways to enjoy Japanese slimy potato “Nagaimo” 長芋 or “Yamaimo” 山芋.  All this led me to come up with this dish.

Nagaimo: I peeled and cut the nagaimo into about 1 inch thick disks. I simmered it in dashi broth (about 1 cup, which I made using a kelp and bonio dashi pack). I added sake and “usukuchi” 薄口醤油 or light-colored soy sauce (about 1 tbs each). I simmered it for 20 minutes or so and let it cool in the broth. I did this several hours before serving.

Sauce: This is a variation of the orange marmalade sauce. I borrowed the broth from the nagaimo simmering liquid (2 tbs) and dissolved orange marmalade (2 tbs) in a small sauce pan on a very low flame. After the marmalade completely dissolved, I added soy sauce (2 tsp). The sauce is slightly thick because of the marmalade. I kept it warm.

Ankimo: I sliced the ankimo into disks about the same thickness as the nagaimo (1 inch thick which is thicker than I would have cut it for the other presentation). I dredged it in flour and sauteed it in a frying pan with butter (1/2 tbs) on a medium flame. I browned the surface (the butter browned as well but did not burn) for 1-2 minutes and flipped over and browned the other side as well.

Assembly: I reheated the nagaimo before sauteing the ankimo. After placing the sauteed ankimo on the top of the simmered nagaimo, I put the sauce on and garnished with thinly sliced scallion.

This was a really wonderful dish. Both the ankimo and nagaimo were soft enough to be cut with chopsticks. The nagaimo was nicely soft but still maintained some crunch. Although I did not sweeten the broth, the nagaimo had a nice natural sweetness which was enhanced by cooking–it did not have any hint of sliminess. The ankimo was very unctuous; similar in texture and taste to foie gras but better. The browned butter added a “nutty” note. The sauce was also perfect for this dish with a nice orange flavor and sweetness. We will definitely add this to our “teiban” 定番 or regular list of home Izakaya dishes.

We had this with Gekkeikan “Black and Gold”. I decanted the sake into a sake pitcher. We have collected several over the years but we use them only rarely. Since the shape of the bottle (a fat “tokkuri” shape”) of “Black and Gold” makes pouring from the bottle with one hand a bit difficult for us (we can’t one-hand a basket ball either), this pitcher/decanter was perfect. This is also from Kitaichi glass 北一グラス, Otaru 小樽, Hokkaido. We have matching “guinomo” ぐいのみ glasses but did not use them this time.

This is an extremely satisfying dish and perfect for cold sake but I think it will go very well with good sturdy reds such as Cabernet or Syrah or even crisp whites with some acidity such as Sauvignon blanc. Another good pairing will be dry or semi-dry sparkling wine. (In other words it will go with almost anything.)

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