Isaza (ice goby)
Usually referred to as shirouo in Japan, this tiny, transparent fish is called isaza in Ishikawa Prefecture. It is a messenger from the sea that heralds the spring. In the Anamizu Bay area of Noto, a traditional fishing method involving the use of a stretched net is still used to catch isaza migrating upriver to spawn. The fishing season runs from March 1st to May 31st. The unique flavor of isaza is brought out by cooking it in dashi stock. The fish produces the delicate and refined taste when cooked with beaten eggs or in clear soup. When cooked, the beautiful, transparent isaza turns white. Some gourmets prefer swallowing isaza alive with soy sauce and vinegar and a quail’s egg. They enjoy feeling the fish bouncing down their throat. This eating style is called “odorigui” (literally, “dance-eating”). Japanese people try to get a feel for the season not only through taste, but also through appearance and texture.
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