I suppose it’s ironic that my first “real” post on seoulfoodlove.com will be about Japanese food, but here we are. 😉 Anyways, I was so fortunate to travel to Japan in first class thanks to my old college friend Tim. I’ve never travelled intercontinentally in first class and it was an amazing experience—I almost didn’t want to leave the plane upon landing lol.
On the flight, I decided to get a snack and settled upon what the menu called “Japanese Delicacies.” I didn’t know what it was save for the menu description, which stated it consisted of soy-marinated sea urchin, whitebait with spicy cod roe, and salted squid. I decided to pair it with a sake called Kokuryu.
Anyways, something strange happened when I told the attendant my order. Her eyes lit up and a smile ever-so-subtly formed at the side of her lips. I put in some order for food and alcohol prior to this order and I would put in a few more requests afterwards but I never got that same reaction. There was something special about these three items.
I did some research and learned that they are what the Japanese call Chinmi (珍味). There are three big types of chinmi: uni (sea urchin), karasumi (dried fish roe), and konowata (sea cucumbers fermented in its own guts) . The Japan Airlines snack didn’t have konowata but instead subbed it with a raw squid version, which I believe is called Ika no shiokara.
The uni was surprisingly good for something that was served on an airplane. It was served in a little cucumber cup which gave some textural and flavor contrast.
While many people are familiar with uni, I’m assuming most people have not tried the other two.
Whitebait is Japanese anchovy. They’re really small: not much bigger than one’s fingernail in length. And even though they were dried, they still were kind of soft. The dried fish roe on top was granular and somewhat hard. I was expecting something a little softer (like tarako or mentaiko).
And finally, we get to the raw squid. This was probably the funkiest and slimiest of the three. But it reminded me like a “muddier-tasting” and less-spicy version of one of my favorite Korean side dishes, ojingeojeot (오징어젓)—a spicy fermented raw squid. I would have preferred some rice to go with it but it went well with some sake too 😊
Anyways, I really liked trying them because, while I love Japanese food, I don’t know too much about it. Trying some of these dishes—even if it is “airplane food”—has got me excited for the rest of my Japan trip and what I’ll taste, see, and learn!