The village of Kazamaura can be found in the northern part of the Shimokita peninsula of Aomori prefecture. With plentiful catch from the sea, “ankou,” or monkfish, is a specialty of this village. The ankou found in Kazamaura are caught using a rare technique that keeps the fish alive. Here are some highlights about the unique “Kazamaura Ankou,” including how it is cut and prepared.
“Ankou from Aomori” – The Largest Catch in Japan
Aomori prefecture boasts the largest catch of monkfish in Eastern Japan. The Kazamaura Ankou is well known in the prefecture, with the fishing season between November and June. The best season is considered to fall between December and March.
The most common method used to catch monkfish in Japan are bottom trawling nets or gillnetting. However, in Kazamaura, longline fishing without bait and gillnetting methods are more prominent. The most unique aspect of the fishing methods used in Kazamaura is the fact that the fish are caught alive.
In general, monkfish are filet using a hang-and-cut method (tsurushi-giri). In Shimofuro area of Kazamaura village, the ankou is cut and cleaned in a specialized method done on the snow called “setchu-giri.”
Strict Resource Conservation
For the purpose of research and conservation, in addition to ensuring the size and quality of ankou caught in Kazamaura, any fish less than 2 kg are tagged and released. Generally, monkfish are not long-distance travelers and gets caught after they mature in the area. Some can reach 30 kg in size.
Enjoy Fresh Ankou in Kazamaura Village
Everything but the bones of monkfish can be consumed. The most commonly known dish using ankou is “tomoae” (monkfish dressed in miso). However, in the recent years, many new dishes using ankou have been developed in Kazamaura and visitors can enjoy them at various local inns and hotels.
Ankou Hot Pot
This hot pot is the perfect dish for the cold months. The base seasoning of the hot pot can vary depending on the establishment, which includes salt, miso, or soy sauce.
Grilled ankou is seasoned and grilled, a simple yet delicious dish.
Ankou no Tomoae
A traditional dish from Aomori, Ankou no Tomoae is made with the meat, skin, and liver of ankou, dressed in miso.
Only available when fresh, the Kazamaura Ankou liver has a rich flavor and can be eaten as sashimi.
Ankou sashimi is enjoyed locally in the village as the fish are caught alive and are extremely fresh. Only a small portion of the large fish is suitable for sashimi. It is highly recommended to eat the sashimi with a dip of soy sauce and ankou liver.
Jellied ankou is made with the meat and skin of the ankou set in gelatin. The dish highlights each ingredient’s texture along with the jiggly jelly.
Ankou Karaage is deep-fried ankou, a simple but flavorful dish.