Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Ankimo Rabbit Hole

On a rare day, I'll eat something so good that if there's anything better, I don't want to know. Last week I was fortunate enough to bring down my gullet the nuttiest creamiest most delicate ankimo ever.  Ankimo is the liver of the monkfish- a critter unfortunate enough to be endowed with an unusually large and delicious tube of liver. Ankimo is oft said to be the fois gras of the sea and is equally fraught with moral dilemma.

From the lovely presentation above, you would never suspect anything to be amiss. Monkfish is caught predominantly by indiscriminate trawling which is a terribly destructive way to go about pleasing liver loving saps like me. There are many things in life that are so wrong yet so good.  The gustatory pleasure really overrides any sense of shame I should feel.  If you've made up your mind to do something against your principles, you might as well enjoy it and not feel guilt. You can see I was not raised Catholic.

This particularly stellar example of ankimo was served at Sushi Sho. The chef Aki-san, who my husband dubbed Sake-san since he kept slugging surprising amounts of sake between sashimi sets, worked skillfully in putting our dinner together.  You can see he did not skimp on the momiji oroshi - grated daikon with red chili pepper. "Momiji" is Japanese for maple or autumn foliage;  Japanese are fond of poetic references.

There is a cult of sushi eaters who swear by specific chefs who manage to procure the "freshest" fish possible and present it skillfully.  Much of the raw tuna and other sushi served at sushi restaurants has been super frozen and jetted around multiple times.  The process of super freezing to -60F allows the sushi to store perfectly for years. Our ideals of freshness and the realities of industry practice can easily be hidden away as few diners really know what belies a plate of nigri sushi.

I probably wouldn't be able to stomach sushi if I knew everything.  Not just the environmental exploitation- there's exploitation of poor island nations like Kiribati and Tuvalu who have sold off fishing rights for a pittance. I better stick to California Point Reyes oysters and Dungeness crabs until I research a bit more.


  1. I have been keeping tabs on the proceedings re: Drake's Bay Oyster Company's lease renewal. In controversies such as this, I usually come down on the side of wilderness since there is increasingly less of it. But in this case, I find myself all for the oysters and the folks who farm them. I see that on Monday the court granted D.B.O.C. a temporary reprieve while they review the case. Where do you get your Point Reyes oysters?

    When I was reading your description of Akimo, I was thinking, "Whoa, can't that stuff kill you?" I started to think you were one of those Steve Irwins of the food world. I was confusing Akimo with Fugu- both equally unknown to me.

    1. Israel- I totally forgot about this sad fracas. I've been going there for so many years when it used to be Johnson's Oyster Farm when old man Johnson was still wheeling around. I am firmly on the side of the oyster farm only because Point Reyes is also actively used for cattle ranching. I probably eat more Hog Island oysters than Drake's Bay oysters.

      They should kick everyone out and either keep Point Reyes entirely pristine. But since the ranchers have a deal, I think the oyster company should be renewed. (Alright alright- I just love oysters and I'd be pro-oyster anyway.)