In Canada, autumn means Apples: they’re incredibly abundant at this time of the year. But in Japan, autunmn means Sanma, a fish so seasonal that its Japanese name brings together the character for autumn (秋) with the one for knife (刀 – because, of course, sanma kind of looks like a long blade) and the one for fish (魚), to make 秋刀魚, literally “Autumn Knife Fish”.
In the west, sanma is formally known as “pacific saury”, but more commonly referred to as “mackerel pike”. Personally, I’ll always call it sanma, and think of it as just another reason to look forward to the autumn. In season, sanma cost almost nothing, and grilling them always brings back memories of the big, back-to-school barbecue parties students at my university always organized at the start of the fall term.
Sanma is definitely best grilled over a charcoal fire and lightly seasoned with a bit of salt or with a light mixture of soy-sauce and grated daikon. It’s already too cold to barbecue here so, for tonight’s dinner, we did it on a stove-top grill.
In Montreal it’s very difficult to find fresh fish, but vacuum-packed frozen fish is also fine. I’m very proud of myself that I paid just $2.10 (for two of them!) for this spectacular fish at Angel Seafoods the other day.