Sakizuke: Kakure Ume (Red Sea Bream Milt, Ume, and Horsetail Shoots)
Japanese chefs often serve milt, or red sea bream sperm, during the fish’s mating season in the spring. We recently experience the delicacy at An Evening of Kaiseki and Umami at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from renowned kaiseki chef Yoshihiro Murata. Murata paired the silky, custard-like milt with a briny-sweet umeboshi, a crunchy horsetail shoot, and dashi for umami oomph. Delicate and exciting, each layer of the dish unfolded with new flavors, colors, textures.
To prepare the milt (known as shirako in Japan), Mr. Murata sources whole sea bream and removes the enlarged sperm sacs, which can be held for a week in the freezer. He instructs not to grind the milt, less it turns sloppy. Instead, he steams the milt and cooks it over low heat until it thickens.
For the Stock A:
In a pot over low heat, combine the dashi and soy sauce. Season with salt.
For the Umeboshi:
With a toothpick or pin, prick the surface of the umeboshi all over. Heat a small pot of water on low heat, and gently simmer the umeboshi to remove the salt. In another pot, combine the umeboshi, Stock A, and bonito flakes. Simmer on low heat until the umeboshi absorb some of the dashi flavor. Remove from the heat, and chill the umeboshi in the stock.
For the Stock B:
In a pot over low heat, combine the dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Season with salt.
For the Shirako Cream:
Sprinkle the milt with salt and rest for 1 hour. Sprinkle with a little sake, put it in a bowl and cook in a steamer for 10 to 15 minutes. Cool, strain the milt through a fine sieve, and add toasted and ground sesame seeds. Adjust the thickness with a little Stock B and cook in a saucepan over low heat until the cream thickens.
For the Fried Horsetail Shoots:
Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer, and fry the horsetail shoots until just crisp. Remove from fryer and lightly sprinkle with salt.
To Assemble and Serve:
Put the Umeboshi in a small bowl and pour the Shirako Cream over the top. Garnish with a Fried Horsetail Shoot.