Goto Islands, Part 2: Oysters

Click here to see Part 1 of our trip to Japan’s Goto Islands.

We heard about Goto Island’s famous oysters and decided to send some to Aya’s parents in Osaka. We stopped at a seafood company called Maruoto and the day took an amazing turn.

Maruoto specializes in big, beautiful oysters.

We had only been in the store for a couple of minutes when Shin, the owner’s son, offered to open some samples for us. They were huge, but so delicate and gently briny, like a sea water custard.

That was just the beginning of what turned into an amazing afternoon. Read on to see more.

Continue reading “Goto Islands, Part 2: Oysters”

West Coast Gooseneck Barnacles

Gooseneck barnacles are so ugly it’s hard to think of them as food. We’ve heard that in Spain and Portugal, percebes can cost up to $200 per kilo at restaurants. If people are spending that much to have them with a glass of Sherry, they must be pretty special.

On a recent trip to the far side of Vancouver Island we spotted some on the rocks at low tide and took the opportunity to see what the fuss was all about.

Hard to believe that inside these dinosaur-like heads and leathery bodies hides incredibly tender flesh with a flavour something like shrimp crossed with scallops.

Click through to see them cooked and served.

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Summer Figs

Kamala clapped her hands loudly, so that the golden bangles tinkled. “Your poetry is very good, brown Samana, and truly there is nothing to lose if I give you a kiss for it.” She drew him to her with her eyes. He put his face against hers, placed his lips against hers, which were like a freshly cut fig.”

Siddhartha (Herman Hesse, 1922)

This passage always comes to mind when Vancouver’s fig trees are heavy with fat fruit in the hot weeks of August. But the simile “like a freshly cut fig ” did not conjure up a very desirable image when I read the passage for the first time as a teenager. At that point I was only familiar with dried, wrinkled brown figs that came threaded onto a loop of straw. It was decades before I first met up with the luscious red interior of a fresh one and finally understood.

We like to poach these summer treats with ginger and cardamom and serve with a scoop of ice cream, or slice thickly for a pizza topping.

This year Aya made some wonderful tarts (click any image to see larger photos):

Click through to see how the pizzas turned out.

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Goto Islands, Part 1

From Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four big islands, we took a ferry out to the small chain of islands called Goto for a week of camping. You may remember it from the Kamigoto surfing post a while ago.

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Driving onto car ferries is one of our favourite parts of travel. It’s as close as we’ll get in our lifetime to putting a little private flying ship inside a giant interplanetary craft and taking a trip across the stars to explore other worlds.

Sasebo is a busy Naval port, and we saw many unusual ships on the way out of port. (Click on the gallery below to see larger images).

One of the US Navy patrol boats showed off their speed and maneuverability by catching air from the ferry’s big wake.
Looked like a lot of fun. Note the big machine gun on the bow!

Goto Islands appeared out of grey, rainy skies.

The local weather was actually quite lovely, changing frequently.

We followed whatever road seemed interesting, often ending up in situations that were unexpected.

Eventually we found our way back to the coastal roads and went looking for a seafood snack. Click through to see what we found.

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Green Citrus Marmalades

Sudachi are golf ball-sized citrus, prized in Japan for their intense flavour and aroma. You might find a paper-thin slice atop a grilled fish or a curl of rind in a steamed custard.

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If you’re lucky, it might be the even-more-fragrant (and expensive) yuzu.
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In an brazen attempt to bring down the culture by turning its basic culinary tenets on their head, we decided to make sudachi marmalade.

No-one in the history of Japan has ever done this.

Why would they? It is insane, and not delicious.

sudachi-marmalade
We are ill-equipped to judge the sanity of making sudachi marmalade…

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…but we can tell you that it is insanely delicious.

Dark, bitter and densely packed with everything good about marmalade, it has the aroma of limes that have been meditating for years on the true nature of citrus.

For our next trick, we decided to make a batch with Key Limes.

Florida was unfazed by this.
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