********** 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, 29 May 2015

Welsh heritage fishing “Coracle” ウェールズの伝統遺産漁法“コラクル”

In the early May, right in the gorgeous season of fresh verdure, I travelled to Cotswold to see Mr. Dai, and watch sea trout and Atlantic salmon fishing practiced only in a few countable number of regions in Wales. Fishermen specializing in the traditional coracle fishing asked of me to perform Ikejime, since they’d seen me at the Elver releasing event hosted by Dai.

The fishing is carried out by a pair of coracles, a small, willow-structured boat with a mere capacity of one adult, hauling a gill net together in between while skillfully rowing an oar in the other hand, catching trout and salmon that come swimming upstream from an estuary. The type of fishing that’d long been passed on as a tradition in Wales is devised for fish with strict regulation on its volume of catch, moreover the method itself is recognized as a heritage allowing only handful of permitted specialists to practice, and currently only 10 of them exist.
Most of these sea-run varieties swim upwards along high tides, thus it is crucial to foresee and grasp the opportunity in the right timing. Especially sea trout is known to come upstream in late nights during spring tide, and this trip was planned accordingly to its season.
I was picked up from the station close to Dai’s house on the day, and treated a light yet luxurious supper at his place including dishes made of Iberico ham and smoked salmon.  Dai’s house, located within a small town of Cotswold, has a charming stone-built exterior unique to the region, with equally attractive interior equipped with a stone-kiln oven and Italian-made Tamagnini’s ham slicer. The depth of his dedication towards what interests him, to create and design such a lavishing space with his own hands that serves as his own cooking studio amazed me. 
Headed towards Wales and arrived at the river around 2.00 a.m. The fishing had already begun, though no sign of catch was seen. I patiently observed from the riverbank up until around 4.00 a.m., unfortunately not one fish was caught, and therefore I could not perform Ikejime this time around. Nevertheless, we said our goodbyes with a promise to meet again when next opportunity arises.

 The shadow of them walking with coracles over their shoulder in the dead of night almost striked me as big turtles, which adds another interesting and unique aspect to the fishing. The good people of Wales who value and pass on the tradition simultaneously with considering for the limited resources of the fish left me nothing but profound respect.