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Summer is a bountiful season for fish! There are so many options that fit so many palettes and it is also a time for arguably some of the best fish of the year!

We asked the experts, our chefs, which is their favorite summer fish. At Shiro’s, we serve each of these fish at the height of the season. Enjoy!

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“Fish in July” Chef Picks

1. Yuhei’s Favorite Fish: Kijihata

Yuhei’s favorite fish of summer is hands down Kijihata. More commonly known as a redspotted grouper, this clear, white fleshed fish has an orange, football shaped body that features slightly yellowish-red spots. It earns its place as a high-end fish in Japan due to its delicate flavor, rich sweetness, firm texture, and short season of early summer.

Why it’s Yuhei’s favorite:
Kijihata’s flesh becomes tender when cooked. Its firm texture is also enjoyable when sliced very thin for sashimi.

Favorite way to cook:
Braised! Braised Kijihata creates a delicious salty-sweet flavor.

Shiro’s Kijihata:
Kijihata served as nigiri at sushi bars is wet-aged for 2-5 days to create an enjoyable firm texture that also increases the flavor by distributing amino acids throughout the fish. An unforgettable result!

Kijihata is prepared as nigiri at Shiro’s Sushi Bar and can be ordered as an additional à la carte item in the dining room.

2. Masa’s Favorite Fish: Meichi-dai

In Japan, Meichi-dai comes mainly from western Japan, found in the southern region of Nagasaki. It is also considered a luxury and is rare in supermarkets due to limited availability. It is savored mostly at the high-end restaurants that get their hands on it from the summer to autumn season.

Why it’s Masa’s favorite:
Meichi-dai has a rich, flavorful fat that pairs well with vegetables and rice. Its distinct feature is a single black band across the eye, which is the reason behind its name, translated to Gray large eye bream. In Nagoya, it is known as “Ichimi.”

Shiro’s Meichidai:
Shiro’s Meichidai is dry-aged for five days to enhance its sweetness and flavor before being prepared and served as nigiri at the sushi bar. It is also available in the same preparation as an à la carte item in the dining room.

3. Sean’s Favorite: Tako

One of the most recognizable pieces of sushi is Tako – or octopus! Its rich purple and creamy white gives way to the unmistakable suction cups of the octopus. With a unique texture of slightly crunchy and chewy, a properly prepared Tako is a wonderful part of the sushi world!

Why it’s Sean’s favorite:
It’s unique! While so many fin fish are in season over the summer, Tako gives us something a little different – and different is a good thing!

Shiro’s Tako:
Shiro’s steams tako for five hours total! It is initially steamed for four hours with only sake and water, and then seasoning is added for the remaining one hour. After it is properly tenderized to create a remarkable texture, which is an essential part of the process, it is then deep fried for a perfect bite!

Tako is currently only available at the sushi bar and is served as an appetizer.

Washoku – Its Origins

We’ve talked a lot about what Washoku is, but now we dive into how it began.

The cuisine we now think of as Washoku began to take shape around Yayoi period (300 B.C. to 250 A.D.). As rice cultivation intensified in the Yayoi period, the foundational food culture focused on rice and fish began to emerge, incorporating foods, from freshwater fish to rice paddies. This is where we trace the origins of Washoku.

During the ancient Ritsuryo state (6th to 10th century), consumption of beef, horse meat, dogs, monkeys, and chickens was forbidden during the rice-growing season, further consolidating the food culture that was forming around rice and fish.

During the Nara period (8th century), fermented seasonings such as soy sauce emerged, with cooking methods remaining simple and seasoning of food left to each diner.

From the beginning of the Heian Period (9th to 12th century) onward, Zen monks returned from China with techniques for effectively seasoning plant-based ingredients, such as tofu, which evolved into Shojin Ryori (Japanese Buddhist cuisine).

Then, one significant turning point occurred during the Kamakura period (13th to 14th century) when Zen Buddhist monks returned from China, bringing with them cooking techniques that emphasized seasoning and rejecting animal-based ingredients. This era also saw the introduction of dashi and fermented seasonings, laying the groundwork for Kaiseki cuisine, which is integral to modern Washoku with its elevated approach and fine dining format.

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