A whole new way to make maguro, and other kinds of fish, delicious without cooking them.

On our last trip to the grocery store, we came back with a nice block of tuna, or maguro as it’s called in Japanese. Ordinarily when you’ve got a cut of high-grade fish in Japan, the big decision is whether you want to make sashimi (sliced raw fish) or sushi (by putting the slices on vinegared rice), but this time we decided on a third option.

It was time to make some sashimi ham.

While we’ve got some creative cooking minds on staff (witness our previous recipes for green tea rice cooker pancakes and tempura fried rice), this time around the idea comes from a friend of our Japanese-language reporter P.K. Sanjun. P.K.’s friend is a serious fishing fan, and in addition to hitting local lakes early in the morning before going to work he sometimes spends his weekends on the high seas fishing for tuna, and after catching enough of it to experiment with, he came up with this super-easy recipe for dry-cured maguro ham.

Looking at our prep photos, you might also think you’ll need saran wrap, but what’s really required is something a little more specialized. That’s actually a roll of dehydrator sheets, and though P.K.’s buddy can get them at his local supermarket, we had to order ours online, getting a pack of 15 sheets for 1,000 yen (US$9.35) on Amazon

▼ Our roll of Pichit Sheet-brand dehydrator sheets

Prepping the maguro ham only takes a few seconds of work. First, take the tuna out of its pack and pat it with a paper towel to remove its surface moisture. Next, sprinkle on a generous amount of whatever your favorite kind of allspice is.

▼ We opted for Jane’s Krazy Mixed-up Salt, which is pretty easy to find in Japan.

Next, grab a dehydrator sheet and wrap the maguro inside of it. The material feels a little like cushiony plastic wrap, but its specially designed to dry whatever is inside, which is why they’re also called himono (“dried fish”) sheets in Japanese.

And that’s really all the work you need to do. Granted, you can’t eat the ham just yet, but the only remaining step is to place the wrapped block of maguro in your fridge and let it chill for two days.

▼ The beginning of our 48 hours of anticipation

Resisting the urge to take a big bite out of that block of sashimi every time we needed to get something else out of the refrigerator was a difficult challenge. At times our resolve began to waver, but we managed to hold out for the two days needed for the dry-curing process to finish, upon which we were rewarded for our display of willpower.

Unwrapping the maguro, we noticed that its outer edge had taken on a brownish hue during the curing process. Slicing off a piece, though, revealed that beneath the surface it was still ruby-red, and the contrast between the two colors made the fish all the more mouthwatering to look at.

As for the eating experience, it was everything we could have hoped for. The maguro ham is flavorful and tender, and the salty seasoning makes it particularly refreshing at the end of a sweaty summer day. P.K.’s friend even told him that the same steps can be used to make ham out of other types of sashimi, like sea bream or whitefish, and we can’t wait to try them for ourselves, especially with how easy the process is.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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