What could make the Sakura Festival at Morimoto Asia and the start of springtime even better? Tasting and learning about delicious sushi!
At the start of this wonderful event we were honored to see the chef’s feature presentation on preparing the fish and sharing their art of creating sushi. They demonstrated filleting and unique techniques evening utilizing a culinary torch on the scales to bring out the flavors of different fish so that each reaches its full flavor potential. It was fascinating to watch and experience their expertise firsthand surrounded by all the fun at Disney Springs.
As we joined each of our 3 groups, we started at the Sushi bar area to watch the sushi chefs prepare some great dishes. We sampled an offering of Uni (Sea Urchin Roe) and Hokkaidako (Mizu-tako), which are octopus legs.
The Uni was unique and like nothing I’ve tried before. It had a very smooth texture and a complex, rich flavor profile that was surprising. Out of 180 varieties in Japanese coastal waters, only about 10 are actually edible. The ones from Hokkaido are known for the exquisite flavors that possess a hint of sweetness. The Hokkaidako was very good as well. I kind of expected to take a bite and experience something closer to calamari in texture, but this was not chewy or like anything I had before. It had a surprisingly light texture and flavor profile that was enjoyable.
At our next station, we were honored to hear Chef Yuhi Fujinaga share about two varieties of fish that we had never seen before. The Aka Yagara (Cornet fish) and the Tachiuo (Cutlas fish). The aka yagara is a beautiful fish with a unique shape and color with a umami that is exclusive to this fish. It gets its coloring from its diet of crustaceans and small fish around the coastal waters and coral reefs, giving its meat a hint of shellfish flavor. Next up we learned about the tachiou fish, which was a sight to see! It is sometimes referred to as a “belt fish” as they often reach lengths of 36” and their mouths are filled with some giant razor sharp teeth. This fish is available year round, but is considered a summer fish. Its soft texture and fat content lends itself to searing or grilling to bring out the complex flavors.
At our final station before sampling all these wonderful fish, we learned about Ji-kinmedai/alfonsino, a giant-eyed bright orange fish with some highlights of rose gold on its scales. This is a prized deep water fish in its winter season. The second fish is the madai or red seabream fish that is often used for celebratory occasions. It has a clean and light taste and its great both cooked or raw making it very popular in Japan.
Now, the time had come to get to sample all these unique fish! It was amazing to taste these fish back-to-back so that you can experience the uniqueness of flavor each one possesses and appreciate the diversity of flavor and texture. It was such a treat!
With the sushi came pairings of sake, which is a Japanese rice wine. Although it is thought of as a wine, the fermenting process follows closer to that of beer as it utilizes the rice starches that convert to sugar and then ferment giving it a less sweet flavor profile.
One of the most unique things that we got to sample during our trip to the Seas was a variety of Sake that was aged for many, many years! Isn’t that incredible? If you enjoy barrel aged drinks with that old-world flavor, you might enjoy this special drink. A fascinating fact is that the aged Sake was actually aged in porcelain… This is something that we had never heard about (or tasted!). The aged sake is something that is not to miss if you are looking a drink that’s unique. I would love to try this with the Morimoto Chicken or Gomoku fried rice sometime to see how the aged depth of the sake plays with the smoky and savor flavors of fried rice since it is one of our favorite dishes. The usual sake is a clear color while the aged sake has a deeper amber color that reflect the depth the aging process instills.
We enjoyed meeting the team from True World Foods as they were there to talk about how they bring the fresh, ocean caught fish all the way from Japan to Florida in less than 48 hours! It was wonderful to hear Mizuho share her passion about what she does and she had such a great welcoming personality that made you want to listen and learn more. It definitely gave us an even greater appreciation for the foods that we got to enjoy and how special that it is to have such a variety of unique, fresh saltwater fish available here at Morimoto Asia.
If you haven’t had a chance to join in the Sakura Festivities such as Crooked Can Happy Hour or the Seas of Japan 101, check out the next two celebrations– Ramen Seminar & Tasting on April 8th from 12-3PM and the AMAZING Matsuri Festival on April 15th from 12-4PM! Check out www.morimotosakura.com for ticket information. Will you be there to join us in the Sakura festivities?