Hiroshi Hirasaka's journey: deep-sea fish that won't kill you if you eat them
Both the seafood and the deep-sea fish found in Suruga Bay, on the west coast of the Izu Peninsula, have been gaining attention and popularity in recent years. Despite their slightly bizarre appearance and mysterious ecology, they are reputed to be tasty. Biology writer Hiroshi Hirasaka, who searches for unusual creatures all around the world to eat and observe, headed for the fishing port of Heda in western Izu.
At 4:30 am, while still dark, the trawler ship Hinodemaru departed the Heda fishing port for the sea, carrying Hiroshi Hirasaka. Suruga Bay is Japan's deepest bay, formed by the subduction of tectonic plates beneath Honshu. At the bay's entrance, the waters reach as much as 2,500 meters in depth. As the nets were lifted into the ship, seafood from the deep sea that we'd never seen before spilled out onto the deck.
As far as deep-sea fish are concerned, many of them look unusual. Small black sharks; fish whose air bladders expand and stomachs bulge in the absence of strong water pressure; the long, sinuous movements of salt-water eels and sea snakes—it's an endless parade of surprises. The photo shows a deep-water bullhead sculpin. All eyes were glued upon its odd, garish form.
We brought deep-sea fish from the Hinodemaru to a restaurant in the fishing port and had it cooked. The owner's first recommendation was Japanese grenadier (Coelorinchus japonicus) sashimi. The flesh was light, pale, and very tasty. Often eaten in Heda, this fish is called geho locally, and it's also delicious simmered.