Video: Breaking a Fish, Japanese-style

Video: Breaking a Fish, Japanese-style

Learn the Japanese technique of sanmai oroshi, or three part filleting, from Chef Abe-san at En Japanese Brasserie. Watch the video demonstration of how to break down a fish using the mantra 'hara, se, se, hara' and observe the fluid and graceful knife work in this tactile and sensory process.

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: