1 large tai

1 tbs uni paste
1 tbs sake
1/2 tbs mirin
1/2 tbs light soy sauce

Yuzu, sudachi or lemon wedges

Tai (sea bream) with uni (sea urchin) glaze

Tai (sea bream) is known as the "king of fish" and is one of the main features of the Oshogatsu New Years feast. If you live outside of Japan, you will probably have to order your tai a few weeks before New Years. They are quite expensive, so you can expect to pay from $50 to $100 for a large specimen.

If you buy the fish a few days before New Years, liberally salt the entire fish and keep it in the fridge.

Cut the flesh away from each side of the fish by fileting, keeping the head, fins and tail intact. First, make a cut along the head, running the knife under the gill flap. Keeping the knife close to the skeleton, (be careful for the small sharp bones), loosen the filets, cutting as the kninfe draws in, from the belly toward the backbone. Pat dry with paper towels and cut each filet into diamonds. Glaze with the uni paste.

My dad likes to roast the carcass in a "swimming" shape by skewering the fish into a wave shape. This is done with two skewers from the tail on the "wrong" side of the fish (facing with the head to the right. Start near the tail and sew the fish into an undulation shape. Repeat with the other skewer, which flares out at a slight angle.

Wet the tail and fins with water and coat them with a liberal amount of sea salt (this looks lovely when serving) and place it, skewered side up, under a broiler until the flesh is white and the skin, brown. Some charring is to be expected. Turn over to the other side and repeat. The idea is to keep the "right" side looking as pristine as possible. Alternatively, if grilling, start with the wrong side down.

Remove carcass and cool to room temperature while roasting the diamond morsels. Place under the broiler, skin side down for only a few minutes, until the flesh is white. Turn over and roast, skin side up. Cool to room temperature. Do not remove the skewers until serving time.

To serve, you'll need a large platter. Arrange the carcass with the head to the left, propping ut up with cut vegetables if needed. Place the diamond morsel, skin side up, attractively on top of the carcass. Garnish with lemon wedges or, if available, yuzu or sudachi.

Uni Glaze
Uni paste comes in a jar and is made from sea urchin, salt and sake. Mix the uni paste with the remianing ingredients.

Leftovers: After serving roasted tai, you can make a delicious nabe with the head and bones. There is a substantial amount of meat in the head of a large tai, which are considered a delicacy.

Serves 8-12