Kawahagi (Thread-sail filefish)
Rich flavor of liver like “otoro”
“Kawahagi” (thread-sail filefish) is a fish of the family Monacanthidae in the order Tetraodontiformes. The peculiar name, meaning “peeling off the skin”, comes from the way in which the hard and thick skin of the fish is peeled off upon cooking.
Simple but sweet, the flavor is similar to “fugu” (pufferfish). The liver is exceptionally delicious it is called “foie gras of the sea”.
“Kawahagi has the best liver so I use them from around October when the liver become fatty but December is the best time. Today I have kawahagi from Demizu in Kagoshima Prefecture. I use kawahagi from the Kyushu area because they have firm meat and good quality liver.”
As for nigiri, Mr. Takaoka does nothing to the meat but puts a big piece of liver in between the sushi rice. He does not use any condiments like scallion or chive.
“The rich and sweet taste of the liver is as good as otoro of ‘maguro’ (tuna). This is why I don’t add any condiments for guests to enjoy simply the taste of the fish.”