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Tradition calls for Jews to eat foods soaked in oil as a reminder of the drop of oil which miraculously kept the Temple's menorah burning for eight days. Potato latkes are the most popular Hanukkah food in the U.S., but Jews around the world have found various ways to commemorate the holiday story through fry. Israelis typically eat jelly doughnuts, and Jews with Spanish ancestry snack on fried cheese.
Since there's no Biblical injunction decreeing which oily foods to eat at Hanukkah time, it's up to cooks to devise their own menus. And since Seattle's larder is overflowing with oily fish, it makes sense to put those anchovies, mackerels and sardines at the center of the holiday table. (Talmudic scholars may also appreciate that oil and the menorah symbolize wisdom in Jewish lore, which makes a feast of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids especially fitting.)
Voracious asked a few of the city's chefs who are particularly deft with slithery, sustainable fish to provide distinctly Seattle recipes for Hanukkah. We'll run their recipes periodically through the start of Hanukkah next Tuesday. Chag Sameach.
Shiro Kashiba is very fond of mackerel. Of the three kinds of mackerel available in Seattle - Norwegian, Spanish and King - the famed sushi chef prefers Norwegian, even though he has to buy it frozen. "It is fattier and oilier, since it travels in colder waters," he explains in his memoir, Shiro: Wit, Wisdom and Recipes From a Sushi Pioneer. "This is an exception to my usual rule of going local, but this mackerel is just too tasty to pass up."
Mackerel Cooked in Misoni
Misoni is a cooking style that simmers the fish in a broth and brings a warm depth to the soft flesh of the mackerel. This recipe can also be replicated with other white fish like rockfish and red snapper.
1 Norwegian mackerel, cleaned and cut into 4 pieces
2 small knobs of fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
6 stalks green onions, chopped into 1 ½" pieces
¼ cup sake
¼ cup water
2 to 3 oz. red miso paste
3 tablespoons dashi
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
In a large pot, combine sake, water, thinly sliced ginger and mackerel cut into four pieces, and cook on high heat for 10 minutes.
Combine in a bowl the miso with the dashi. Add sugar and soy sauce into the bowl, the pour the contents into the pot and cook for about 4 minutes
Add the green onions and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Enjoy!
From Shiro: Wit, Wisdom and Recipes from a Sushi Pioneer. © Shiro Kashiba and Chin Music Press