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Image source: Aoki Cooking School
Image source: Ishikawa Prefecture
- Main lore areas
Around Anamizu Town
- Main ingredients used
Isaza (Ice goby), Egg
- History/origin/related events
Anamizu Town is situated in the heart of the Noto Peninsula. The town is famous for the "Isaza" delicacy, which is a kind of ice goby fish. Locally, it is also known as "suberi" in the Kaga region. The fish has a clear body and is quite small, measuring only between 5 cm to 6 cm in length, and belongs to the goby family.
The isaza fishing season begins in spring, which is considered the season of the fish. This is because the isaza swim up from the sea to spawn and gather in large numbers in the rivers of Anamizu Town. The traditional fishing method used in the area is called "Hocho," which involves using a four-handed net. This fishing method is still a springtime tradition, and many isaza are caught using this method.
The best time to catch isaza is around mid-March. During this time, the fish are eaten live and whole. From April to May, the meat of the isaza grows a little larger, making it perfect for a variety of dishes. It can be used in soups, deep-fried, steamed in a bowl, and more. One of the standard dishes made with isaza is "simmered isaza with egg."
In May, the same white croaker fish is caught in the Kaga and Mikawa regions, where it is called "suberu" and consumed.
- Opportunities and times of eating habits
The fish is usually distributed starting from March, which marks the beginning of the isaza fishing season. It is commonly consumed as odorigui (eating while the fish is still alive) during the month of March, and as osuimono (soup) or simmered dishes with egg, kakiage (mixed seafood and vegetable tempura), and other ingredients in the following months. Due to the decrease in catch and relatively high prices, the fish is not commonly served at home anymore, but can still be found in restaurants and tourist facilities catering to visitors. However, in the Anamizu area, it is still frequently enjoyed at home.
- How to eat
Isaza is a type of fish that has a light flavor. It is usually prepared in simple ways such as simmering it with egg, steaming it in a bowl, or adding it to a clear soup. It is important to cook the fish while it is still alive. The best way to eat isaza is by putting it in nihaizu or sanbaizu vinegar and dropping in a quail's egg before swallowing. In the past, when isaza was abundant, it was considered a delicacy and was often prepared as tsukudani, which involves simmering small seafood in soy sauce.
- Efforts for Preservation and Succession
Although the catch of isaza has been declining in recent years due to water pollution and other factors, it is still a traditional food in Anamizu Town, representing the local culture. An annual festival called "Isaza Matsuri" is held in the town during spring, where some restaurants offer a full course of isaza dishes, including odorigui, sashimi, and fried fish. “Isaza simmered with egg” is one of the most popular dishes served during the festival. Despite the decline in catch, the festival continues to celebrate the cultural significance of isaza in the local cuisine.
source : "Kanazawa, Kaga, Noto: Four Seasons of Home Cooking" by Etsuko Aoki.