Japanese master launches fresh-fish business with filleting display
Fish Master Naoki Maeda is considered a living legend in Japan, where he has left people all over the country salivating from his spectacular fish-fileting techniques.
Now, the master has arrived in Thailand.
Restaurant company Kouen Group in concert with Foodies Trading 956 has joined hands with Japan-based Sasue Maeda fish restaurant to import the finest and freshest fish filleted by Master Maeda directly from Japan.
Maeda visited Bangkok earlier this month to meet his business partners and demonstrate his filleting techniques to a select group of chefs, food writers and restaurant owners at Terrior Ekamai.
“I feel very privileged that my license holder Big san [Ittichai Benjathanasombat – Foodies trading 956’s managing director] and Bond san [Teerapat Lertsiriprapa – Kouen Group’s CEO] have invited me to visit their business in Thailand and see how meticulous Kouen Group is in storing and managing the fish that they have imported. Also, I had a great time exchanging knowledge and experiences with Thai chefs. Thus, I am ensured my Thai partners will provide our customers with very high-quality fish,” said Maeda, the fifth-generation inheritor of Sasue Maeda restaurant, located in Yaizu city, central Shizuoka prefecture.
The Secret Behind “Umami” Taste
During the demonstration at Terrior Ekamai, Maeda displayed how he preserves freshness and maximises umami (“deliciousness”) of the fish he serves.
He applies three Japanese fish-filleting techniques – Ikejime, Shinkejime, and Dassujime – just after the fish have been caught, to ensure their quality is maintained.
He also uses a Tegaki, a traditional tool that looks like a small sickle, to sever the flesh between a fish gill and pectoral fin, where major arteries are located. This process is called Ikejime.
The second step, Shinkejime, involves inserting a spike quickly and directly into the spinal cord, which is usually located beneath the dorsal fin and near the caudal fin, to prevent further muscle movement and cease all motion before raising the fish up to allow its blood to flow out.
The aim of both Ikejime and Shinkejime is to ensure blood is drained from the fish, as blood is a source of bacteria that can spoil fish.
After filleting the fish, Maeda sprinkles Himalayan salt over a wooden board, puts the fillets on it and sprinkles them with salt again. This step is called Dassujime, which uses salt to remove bacteria and absorb water from the fish to bring out its original taste.
With these majestic techniques, his customers – whether they are in Japan or Thailand – receive the tastiest and highest-quality fish available.
“I am very excited that Thais can now eat first-rate fish without flying to Japan,” said Ittichai.
A Real Fish Master
With two decades' experience, Maeda is one of the most famous fish masters in Japan.
Sasue Maeda uses fish from Suruga bay. It is the deepest bay in Japan and brims with natural nutrition and food that enhances the quality of fish.
The imported fish will be available for all Thais at Kouen Group’s restaurants, including Ono Sushi and Kouen premium buffet, next year.
“I am confident that Kouen Group can bring the best-quality fish from Master Maeda to all famous restaurants across Thailand as we will begin official distribution next year,” added Ittichai.