Japanese:Eating parent and child together
In some Japanese restaurants, you can see oyakodon, a chicken and egg rice dish on the menu. Chicken, egg, green onions, and several other ingredients are simmered together with condiments including soy sauce and then served over rice in a large bowl. Oyakodon may taste a little sweet due to the mirin in it. Mirin, used for cooking, is a rice wine with a very high sugar content. Whenever you eat beef, pork, or a Japanese dish that tastes sweet, but is not dessert, chances are good that the sweet taste comes from mirin.
While this image of parent and child together on the table in front of you may not resonate with most Westerners, the image seems popular in Japan. You can also find shake oyakodon, which is salmon parent and child, on some menus too. This is salmon and roe, which are served raw, over rice. You can also find cooked salmon served together with raw salmon roe over rice. Some sushi places serve pieces of sushi with salmon and salmon roe together too. They could be combined inside a gunkan, which is how sea urchin and salmon roe are generally served. Or this could be a regular piece of salmon on rice, adorned with a few eggs on top.
Many Japanese seem to derive great satisfaction from these combinations of food that can be eaten in many forms. My friend, Fred, was out for sushi a while ago and saw shirako on the menu. Not knowing what it was, he asked.
The sushi master explained that tarako, was the eggs, and shirako was the male part. Fred, knowing that tarako was cod roe, immediately put two and two together, realizing that tarako was cod sperm. Later, he discovered on the Internet that cod milt sounded much better. Just as most Americans prefer calamari to octopus, Fred imagined that most Americans would prefer cod milt to cod sperm, or at least be less revolted. Fred thought about this a while, and then ordered one. Now, he can't even remember what cod sperm tasted like, just that it was neither delicious nor revolting, just another variety of sushi, perhaps a little bit on the slimy side.
What Fred does remember is that the sushi master seemed quite pleased that both the soft roe, which is sperm or testes depending on the marine species, from the male cod and the hard roe from the female cod could be eaten. If you would like to see what Fred ate, do a google for "sushi in English with pictures" and "cod sperm." A piece of shirako sushi should pop up in your browser.
Fred finds it quite interesting that shirako is looked down on in America as cod sperm while the soft roe from sea urchin is quite popular. Sea urchin has a strong taste and for some people, is an acquired taste. Shirako, however, doesn't have a strong taste. Shirako is available in Japan only in the winter months. If you have the chance, don't miss the magic moment.
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