Video: Breaking a Fish, Japanese-style

Video: Breaking a Fish, Japanese-style


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:

Posted by Harris Salat in Knife Skills | Permalink | Comments (4) | Email | Print

Comments (4)

stomach is hara, not hera. (hera would be...maybe spatula?)
Thank you Naomi, appreciate the correction, as always. Fixed it. ("spatula, back, back, spatula" would be kinda weird... but at least now I know how to say spatula in Japanese!)
Abe-san makes it looks so easy. One of the tastiest fish dishes I've ever had was a miso black cod in San Francisco eons ago. The black cod in your photo is making my mouth water!

"Spatula, back, back, spatula" sounds kinda kinky.

Boy, this brings back memories of my four months at the California Sushi Academy, researching The Story of Sushi. Day after day of fish work. Always inspiring to see a master in action.

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