Poached “Gurukun” (Banana Fish)

Poached “Gurukun” (Banana Fish)

There is something so exciting about buying something special, and rare, and fresh for dinner.

You bring it home, wrapped up in a disheveled little package….nothing like a grocery store package…but a package actually packed by a human being and not a machine.

Not a trace of shrink wrap to be found.

My kids could sense my excitement, and they swarmed around me when I returned from the Ginowan Fish Market with these “Gurukun” (banana fish).

My eleven-year-old son begged to be allowed to prepare them.

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It’s exciting to have your hands on something that only a few hours ago, was swimming in the unknown depths of the sea.

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And it’s important to appreciate practices, skills, vessels and people that brought these little fish to our kitchen.

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Clearly, this was an opportunity my sons did not want to miss.  That’s the thing about cooking with children – what you may see as a mundane task, they see as a fascinating opportunity to explore by touch, smell, taste and sight.

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After the fish were rinsed in cold water, they were patted dry with a paper towel.

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When working with a catch as fresh as this, less is more.  We decided to stuff each one with some rock salt, some lemon, and some Chinese scallion.

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Just a few pinches….

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It will all fit in there, but only barely.

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It wasn’t long before the other kids in the family wanted to see what was going on…

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And soon my son had a full audience.

Impromptu cooking demonstrations are not rare in my house…

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And it’s only natural that one of the kids would want to start photographing the entire process.  Because, of course, they’ve seen me do it every day of their lives.

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After my son stuffed the fish, we arranged them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper, and we added some lemon and scallion on top for good measure.

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We took a second piece of parchment paper and covered our fishes.

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And I stapled the two pieces of parchment together, creating a large packet where the fish will poach.

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This will keep precious moisture from escaping.

We baked them at 325 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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Be careful when you open the package, because steam is HOT.  Believe me, I’ve been burned many times by steam.  It’s always a surprise – how hot it is.

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Serve each fish whole.  To eat them, you need to first scrape the skin off one side, then carefully identify the skeletal structure, and eat the large muscles.

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If you have little children like me, you must take the meat off for them.  This will help your children a lot and it will also help you understand the anatomy of the fish.

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And your children will be amazed at the gruesome remains!

Happy Cooking,







IMG_7834Shannon Vavich is a baby-wearing, homeschooling, mama of seven who is also a chef and a freelance food writer. She follows her husband and his military career all over the world, and currently lives in Okinawa, Japan. She has a little dog named Paprika, and an Okinawan cat named Mochi. She wears red lipstick, likes nice shoes, and loves rocky road ice cream. She is currently writing a book on Okinawan and Japanese cuisine and cooking. More


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