Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Grilled Hamachi Kama

My whole life, I must not have been paying attention.

How could I have missed this?!

Hamachi Kama.

The collar part of the yellowtail fish.

It's the part of the fish that is right behind the head.

Delicately fatty and super-flavorful.

A long time ago, I remember my father-in-law saying it's the tastiest part of the fish--I must not have given him much credibility then-- possibly because I've also seen him eat a fish's eyeball and the guts of a crab.

I was young then, and have since learned.

When I was little, my dad used to tell us kids to eat the eyeball of the fish.

He said it makes you smart.

My brothers ate it, but I didn't.

I guess that about says it all, doesn't it.

Last year, on one of our trips to Mammoth Lakes, my brother and sister-in-law bought us dinner at a Japanese restaurant.

My brother ordered Hamachi kama.

He said it was so good--and sitting across from him at the table, I remember watching him savor every bite.

The rolling-your-eyes-closing-your-eyelids kind of savoring every bite.

So when I went to Marukai Market, and saw a package of Hamachi Kama, I bought it to make at home, knowing that my husband would really enjoy this meal.

It's a little expensive, but he deserves it.

Besides, it still costs less than going out to a restaurant.

The first thing you want to do when you open the package is wash the fish, then take the scales off by running a fish scaler or knife against the grain of the scales.

Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

Then cook it on the barbecue on low heat.

You want to get a nice, light char on it on the meat side,

And a little bit more of a char than this on the skin side.

My husband likes it with a little bit of tsukemono--Japanese pickles--and some steamed brown rice.

The black tsukemono at the front of the plate is one of my favorites--soft kombu flavored with a hint of shiso.

I hope he enjoys it as much as I remember my brother enjoying his fish.



I'm looking forward to my nephew's wedding this month.

I'm really looking forward to seeing my whole family--I love family gatherings!

Meet two of my nieces.

This is Hannah.

Her family lives in Hawaii.

This is Leslie.

She lives in Northern California.

They'll be here for the wedding soon!

It's been a year-and-a-half since we were all together last.

We like cooking together.

Leslie is a cupcake maker.

You can see some of her cupcakes on her website.

Hannah and Leslie are showing off their vegan coconut lime cupcakes (with Rick in the background getting in the picture too!).

Coconut Lime Cupcake.

The last time we were together, Hannah and Leslie decided they were going to become vegetarians.

They asked me if I would like to join them.

I thought it would really help me in my quest to eat healthier and eat less, so I said yes.

It's been a year-and-a-half!

A couple of weeks ago, Leslie sent Hannah and I a message to tell us she ate meat at her sister's graduation party.

I have yet to tell them I ate meat on our recent camping trip.

I thought that if I cracked the door open and ate some meat it would blow that door open with hurricane force and moving toward eating a plant-based diet would all be over for me.

But it didn't.

And isn't.

When my daughter would ask me, in the last year-and-a-half, "If you could eat meat right now, what would you eat?"

I would always say, "A rib eye."

But when I ate part of that rib eye steak--I wanted that part of a rib eye steak that's around the outside, the part that's marbled with fat--
it really wasn't as good as I remember.

I wouldn't choose that anymore.

But bacon?

That's another thing entirely.

I just may need to move in the direction of being a vegetarian that occasionally eats a slice of bacon.

Just like our friend Erica that occasionally eats a hot dog at outdoor events.

The jury is still out on this one.

I'll let you know.


No printable recipe.


  1. I always see this dish as an appetizer at Japanese restaurants - and I always want to get it - but my fiance is somewhat taken aback by it. I'll have to show him this post, because he'll definitely be convinced he needs to let me choose it next time =)

  2. omg. I absolutely love love this dish at my local Japanese restaurant. My craving for it is so bad that I actually call them every other day to see if it is available because they run out.

  3. I have spent the past few days reading your blog from the beginning. I have learned so much about Japanese cooking from you. In spite of having Japanese parent, I seem to have missed out on the cultural part, perhaps from growing up in Hawaii, where many people are mixed race. I love hamachi kama and have a recipe for the dipping sauce. Here is the link: http://kikukat.blogspot.com/2011/09/izakaya-food-kama.html
    Thank you tons for sharing your expertise!