Before that stunning black cod in the picture above was a dish, it was a fish. How did it get from there to here? I asked my man Chef Abe-san at En Japanese Brasserie to demonstrate how to break a fish the Japanese way, a technique called sanmai oroshi -- three part filleting. Abe-san graciously obliged, and I caught it on tape in the video below. Check it out. The first thing to keep in mind here is the mantra: hara, se, se, hara, which means "stomach, back, back, stomach." Notice how Abe-san starts with the stomach side, and flips the fish to the back, does other back and then finishes with the stomach (you'll see what I mean when you watch the video). Abe-san is feeling the spine with his knife as he cuts, and his free hand follows the blade from the top of the fish, also feeling -- so lots of tactile, sensory information from the hands. Check out how fluid and graceful Abe-san is with his knife, and how he uses the entire length of the blade to accomplish his task. Knife poetry, baby.
Here's the video: