Crown Tournament 10/19/2019 - Namazu kabayaki ナマズの蒲焼 (Catfish Kabayaki), Gohan ご飯 (Rice), Gari ガリ (Pickled Ginger)

Namazu kabayaki ナマズの蒲焼 (Catfish Kabayaki), Gohan ご飯 (Rice), Gari  ガリ (Pickled Ginger)
Picture Courtesy of Avelyn Grene (Kristen Lynn)
Yakimono no Bu (焼物之部) is a style of cooking which refers to food that has been cooked via the direct application of heat like grilling, broiling or pan frying. rather than the indirect application of heat that was termed "Iru" and referred to dry roasting in a pan or pot with oil. In Japanese "Yaki" refers to grilled or fired, while "Yakimono" means "a fired thing. During the Muromachi period of the fourteenth century, a typical hon-zen ryori-style meal was served on the principle of "one soup, three sides", also known as ichi ju san sai (一汁三菜) .  For more information on this style of cooking, please read my earlier post Crown Tourney 10/19/2019 - Honzen Ryori Style.

The meal would come with the staples of rice, soup and pickles in addition to the three okazu, or side) dishes which consisted of a namasu (vinegared vegetables), yakimono (a grilled dish) and nimono (a simmered dish) on the first tray. For Namasu, I used Mikawa ae (みかわあへ) and Kohaku-namasu (紅白なます). O-Zoni is the simmered dish. The grilled dish presented a challenge.

The original dish I wanted to serve was Unagi Kabayaki, eel that has been grilled and dipped or broiled in soy sauce, but it was prohibitively expensive to purchase.  This prompted me to search for a suitable substitute.  I discovered that catfish can be substituted for eel in cooking, and was also a known food in the period that I was trying to emulate.  Catfish is known as  Namazu 鱯 and is listed as a river fish in the Ryōri Monogatari.

The Ryōri Monogatari does not  give instructions on this specific dish; however, it does give instructions for Hamayaki which is tai (Sea Bream) that is sprinkled with salt and grilled with a sauce of tamari, sake (酒)and salt (shio  塩).

HAMAYAKI はまやき (SHORE GRILLED) - Scale a large tai with a bamboo blower. Stick a knife in. Sprinkle salt and grill. Drop a little tamari into sakeshio, pour it on top, and serve.

I also very briefly considered cooking the fish using a cedar plank as described in the Ryōri Monogatari. The method is below:

Hegi Yaki  へぎやき (skin and grill) - As above, line up one piece on cedar bark and grill.

This idea was because I was afraid that there would not be sufficient time to cook the fish in this fashion given the very limited facilities of the event site. I am thrilled to discover that this "modern" method of cooking has a very long history behind it. 

 Namazu kabayaki ナマズの蒲焼 (Catfish Kabayaki)

Catfish Fillets (Note: For feast, whiting was substituted for catfish because the store that the fish was being purchased from did not order the catfish when the other fish was ordered.) 
¼ cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 ½ Tbsp sake
2 ½ Tbsp sugar
¼ cup soy sauce (Coconut aminos can be substituted for soy allergies, and tamari can be substituted for gluten allergies.)

To make the sauce, add the sake, mirin and sugar to a small pot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Add soy sauce and reduce heat to low.  Continue to cook the sauce until it thickens and becomes reduced.  Sauce can then be cooled and stored for up to two weeks. 

The origins of this particular dish and sauce can be traced back to the Edo period.  It was traditionally made with eel because it was a cheap food suitable for everyone. It was a popular street food sold from vendor's carts.

Gohan ご飯 (Rice)

1 cup short grained rice
1 ¼ cup water

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Place in a bowl and allow to soak approximately 30 minutes. Transfer to a sieve and drain completely.

Combine rice and water in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once pot comes to a boil, turn to low and cook covered 12-13 minutes or until water is almost completely absorbed. Remove pot from heat and allow to steam 10-15 minutes. Prior to serving fluff the rice.

Note: The rice for feast was made in an "insta-pot"--which I HIGHLY recommend.  You will want to increase the amount of water so that the ratio is 2:1 water to rice.  My pot has a rice setting which I used and set for 10 minutes.  

An interesting bit of trivia I came across while researching is that grains of rice dating to 1000 B.C. were discovered in the early 2000s in northern Kyushu. Also, the oldest rice ball discovered is over 2000 years old and was discovered in the town of Rokuseimachi. 

Gari ガリ (Pickled Ginger)

8 ounces young ginger (Look for pink tips; they color the ginger pink in the pickle.)
1 ½ tsp. sea salt
1 c. rice wine vinegar
⅓ c. white sugar

Using a spoon, scrape off any brown spots from the ginger. Then, thinly slice with a peeler. Sprinkle with ½ tsp. salt and set aside for 5 minutes. Add the ginger into boiling water and cook for 1-3 minutes. If you want to keep it spicy, take it out around 1 minute. Otherwise, 2-3 minutes is good. Drain the ginger slices over a sieve and then spread them out in a single layer. With your clean hands, squeeze the water out and put them in a sterilized jar or mason jar. In a small pot, add rice vinegar, sugar, and remaining salt. Bring it to a boil until the strong vinegar smell has evaporated, roughly 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Pour the vinegar mixture into the jar with the sliced ginger. Close the lid, let cool and refrigerate. In approximately 3-4 hours you should see the ginger turning slightly pink. The following day it will be pinker. The pickled ginger can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.

Note: Despite multiple attempts at ordering young ginger and having the shipments "lost" via Amazon, I was unable to make the pickled ginger as I wanted to.  Store-bought pickled ginger was used at feast.  The recipe is included here in hopes that someone else benefits from the research. On the plus side, I now have 200 ginger seeds, which might make it possible to grow my own ginger next spring.


Creative, T. (n.d.). Eel-y Good -- Why Japan Loves Unagi. Retrieved from

Hays, J. (n.d.). Rice In Japan: History, Kinds of Rice and Cooking and Eating Rice. Retrieved from,people%20at%20red%2Dkerneled%20rice