********** Yoshinori Ishii Executive chef of Japanese restaurant UMU in London ******************

------------------ 英国の日本料理店 UMU 総料理長 石井義典 のつれづれなる話 ------------

Friday, 31 May 2013

Elvers(Glass eel)fishing Gloucester  シラス鰻漁

London opened up an another opportunity for me and allowed me to get to know Mr. Dai, a chief of smoked goods merchant (i.e. salmon, eel, etc.) and also a supervisory figure among a group of fishermen specialising in elver fishing – a type of young eel I had been searching for quite some time to acquire.  I made a detour on my way home from Cornwall and stayed in Ross-on-Wye, a small but deeply historical town located on River Wye in Herefordshire. During daytime, I have enjoyed fishing Atlantic salmon and trout at beats of River Wye owned by Mr. Dai, while experiencing and observing Britain’s traditional elver fishing at night before its season comes to an end.     
Mr. Dai’s facility attracts significant number of licensed fishermen to bring in captured elvers one after another throughout the night, which then will be temporarily gathered in a large-scale vessel designed for its exclusive use. Eel is already aged two by the time it finishes travelling a river upstream, nonetheless it will not have fed on bait and survives the long journey by obtaining sufficient energy from nutrition stored in its stomach since it was a larva. The captured elvers are, then, accustomed to be fed cod roe within the vessel  before being transferred to farming facilities located all over Europe.
When I arrived at the fishing spot, I was truly surprised by how classic the fishing method employed was. A net with approximate length of 30 inch (the biggest size allowed by the regulation) is laid at ankle high to simply scoop up the elvers pushed to the shore by waves triggered by changes in a tide, which occur twice daily at morning and night. The net is constructed based on profound consideration, and all equipment used, including a structure of wooden frame for a net designed to safely hold captured elvers, are handmade by each fisherman.
Elver fishing in Japan, where single glass eel is now priced at markets for almost £3, is facing endanger due to uprooting of all elvers caused off the shore by an use of a huge-scaled four-armed scoop net. While being shocked by the old-fashioned technique still used at fishing site in the Britain, I realized the obvious advantage and its necessity in order to preserve the nature.
When a question popped out from a fisherman regarding to my culinary experience with elvers, my answer was a poor one, only having to have few back in Japan, also at very high rate. After hearing the story of my lack of opportunity despite constant search for elvers at various locations, such as Spain, he began heating up a pan over an open-fire. Bacon and its lard would be the first choice, but instead we fried hand-carried sausages as substitution and used melted grease as cooking oil. I expected to try only a bite considering its high value, nonetheless he generously poured everything we had caught during 4 hours worth of fishing since sunset into the heated pan. A lightly sautéed delicacy, possibly priced more than few thousands Euro at fine dining restaurants, carried a unique month-feel within its complex flavor. For the unexpected and extremely privileged experience I was given, I want to say thanks again to Mr. Dai and all other fishermen.
Additionally I was filled by a sense of satisfaction for being able to land an Atlantic salmon for the first time in my personal fishing life. Again, I would like to thank everyone I had met during this amazing trip.
以前から私が探し続けていたElvers,シラス鰻漁をしている漁師の取りまとめ役であり、サーモンや鰻などの燻製を作っている業者の親分であるDai氏とロンドンで知り合い、Cornwallからの帰る途中、Ross on WyeというWye川沿いにある歴史的街に滞在し、日中はDai氏の所有するWye川のビートでアトランティックサーモンや鱒釣り、夜中にシーズン終了間直の英国の伝統的なElversフィッシングを見に行きました。
彼の所有する施設にはライセンスを持った釣り人が夜通しに獲ったElversを持ち込み、専用の大型タンクに一時的に入れられます。川を昇ってきた時点で鰻は2歳だそうですが、まだ一度も餌を口にしたことがなく、卵から得た、お腹にためた栄養だけで長い航海をするそうです。タンクの中でしばらく慣らされた後、Cod Roe(鱈の卵)を餌として与えられ、餌付けされた後、ヨーロッパ中にある養殖施設に送られるとのことでした。

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