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JAPANESE STYLE Vol. 31 No. 4 January 2018

Tai Sea Bream

Grilled tai

The sea bream or tai is a popular fish among Japanese. Its white flesh has a unique umami, and whether served simmered, grilled or as sashimi, it has an ideal firmness. The vermilion color of the tai is auspicious in Japanese culture, and this, as well as its graceful form, is why the fish has come to represent good fortune. The ancient image of Ebisu, one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, is represented as carrying a plump tai. Its name is phonetically similar to medetai, which evokes a sense of good wishes, and so the fish is typically served on celebratory occasions. Tai imagery appears in the form of kamaboko steamed fish cakes at weddings, and as tai-shaped kinkato sugar confection during the Doll Festival in March. Dishes bearing tai designs are also used for special festivities. During the first three days of the New Year, a whole grilled tai is traditionally offered to the god of the incoming year; on the fourth day, the fish is eaten—and is then referred to as niramidai, which means it must first be looked upon as an offering before being consumed.

Vol. 31

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