Pichitto! for semi-dried fish
I’m happy with the fact that I’m getting inquiries about this product from my readers around the world since my recent post “Pichitto! for smoking tuna“.
Because I just love this thing. I think this is the best invention of the decade. I think it deserves Novel prize.
… Sometimes I get too excited over this.
How do we save our fresh catch longer without freezing?
This is the question that has to be answered. And there are some ways that our great ancestors have invented. Now Pichitto! can help a big part of them.
And I think this invention is such a Japanese thing. Who else would put in so much energy and innovation to inventing something like this product for fish???
Pichitto! is a plastic sheet with special gel that absorbs liquid and edgy odors in it. The gel is made of glutinous starch and seaweed adhesive.
DO NOT cut the sheet when use it. Each sheet is like a plastic bag which holds the gel inside.
There’s no right side. Both sides of the sheet works at the touch with the fish.
You just need to wrap fish or meat with this sheet and let it sit in the fridge. The plastic has tiny holes, and by its osmotic pressure, the gel sucks in liquid and edgy odors from the fish. But it still leaves Umami components like glutamic acid in the fish, because these amino acids are big components and can not go through the holes in the sheet.
- It takes out the excess liquid and edgy odors and condenses Umami (savor).
- You can freeze fish and still keep the good texture after defrosting. It is liquid that gets crystalized and damages the meat. Pichitto! takes out the liquid and sticks to the surface of the fish to protect from freezerburn as well.
- Overnight with Pichitto! wrap is usually enough to take out liquid from surface and leave some moisture inside. The fish will be still juicy when cooked.
I tried with steak and chicken drums as well, and the effect was amazing. The taste is finer and richer. After Pichitto!, the meat is easy to put on the seasonings as well.
Lightly Dry for Better Texture and Better Flavor
You can lightly dry for better texture and for more savour. Light drying makes the fish put on seasoning more easily too.
Prepare the fish into whatever you will be cooking. Cut your fish into fillet bars if you are doing sashimi, or maybe into slices if you are doing BBQ. Maybe a whole if you doing the grill.
We just want to lightly dry the fish and take out odors.
If you are doing sashimi, 30 minutes would be enough for most fish. Just start cutting out sashimi from here. It’s effective with any fish and shellfish, but especially with tuna family.
You can put on seasonings and get your grill going. You can marinade for later cooking. Or you can pickle in vinegar.
Semi-dry for aging and preservation
On the other hand, you want to take out not only gills and guts, but also the blood. Especially when you leave the head or the spine on. There are major blood concentration along below the spine and in the head. Open the belly. Take off the air bladder and you see the blood concentration along the spine and around the neck part. Clean it thoroughly with a toothbrush.
I make 10% salt water. People have different recipe from 5% to 13%. Mix in some Sake for a nice flavor. And let the fish soak in it for 20 to 40 minutes. The time depends on the thickness of the fillet and the amount of fats it holds. Find your favorite taste.
The surface will be dry, but the inside will still be moist. The dried surface works as the shielding against oxidation and decomposition. And the salt slows down the growth of germs.
Cold smoking is my favorite.
See my previous post, “Pichitto! for smoking tuna“.
You can even freeze and lose very little quality. Because it’s the liquid that get crystalized in freezing and damages the tissues around it. Semi-dried fish holds less liquid so you don’t lose much quality by freezing. When you want to freeze the fish, you should think to semi-dry it first.
When you freeze in your freezer, it’s better to wrap the fish with aluminum foil. Because of its high thermal conductivity, aluminum speeds up the freezing, which keeps the crystals small and less damaging.
After frozen, I would eat within a month. You better not defrost it before cooking. Put the frozen fish right to the heat. It doesn’t get fishy that way.
I don’t care what you think of Barracuda, but this fish is BORNED to be semi-dried.
This is a Bigeye Barracuda I caught. There are quite a lot of species in Barracuda. We don’t do Great Barracuda as it’s reported to have ciguatera risks. But we do a lot other species we get around Japan. They have such fine fats, non-greasy, non-odor, just delicate clear juicy flesh.
Soak in 10% salt water with a bit of Sake for 30 to 40 minutes. (If you use a plastic bag like this, you can do with less amount of the salt water.) The amount of salt and the time of marinade depends on fats and thickness of the flesh. Experience counts here.
For a special occasion to treat your family and friends, prepare konbu broth to make this salt water. Soak 10g of konbu in 500ml of water (20g in 1 liter) overnight in the fridge. Make 10% salt water with this broth and marinade fish with konbu.
If you are in a hurry, or if you don’t want to bother to marinade, you can just season the fillets with 2% salt of the fish weight. And go straight to Pichitto.
Keep in mind that this is recipe of a Japanese tradition. It may be too salty for you. Semi-dried fish, or “Himono”, has been a preserved food since the time when there was no fridge. It used to be really salty. This recipe is a modern version of less salty. Still, Japanese people have this fish with plain steamed rice. Salty fish is like a seasoning to the rice. It’s supposed to be a bit salty. So try this for a couple of times with the different salt percentage and different marinade time to find your liking.
After marinating, wipe the fillets well and wrap with Pichitto.
(Sorry, I forgot to take the pic. Shown is amberjack fillets.)
Let it sit in the fridge overnight or more. Pichitto will stick to the fillet almost airtight and suck in the moisture. You can let it sit for a couple of days like that, too. If you dry more, you can change Pichitto, but if you don’t want to dry so much, you can just leave the first Pichitto on the fillet and it will preserve the fillet like Saran Wrap.
Whala!!! The skin is dried and grilled crispy. You can see that all the fats under the skin fried itself. The meat is juicy, full of fine savour. Especially the belly meat just melts and hits your brain.
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