I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream
Does fish-flavored ice cream sound good to you? Don't cringe -- according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it's all the rage in Japan.
A few years ago, Yoshiaki Sato, the owner of a candy and ice cream shop in the fishing village of Ishinomaki, Japan, was watching a news report on TV about fish that were caught locally, the Pacific saury, going to waste. Mr. Sato suddenly had an idea about what to do about all the extra fish: make fish ice cream.
Everyone, including Sato's employees and his wife, thought he was crazy. And the fish smelled up Sato's sweet factory. But Sato was on the right track -- not only did people slurp up the fish ice cream, but now he makes ice cream out of sea slugs, whale, turtles, cedar chips, and much more.
Now Sato helps other towns in Japan make ice cream flavors out of their local specialties -- including pickled orchards in Toyoma, chicken wings and shrimp in Nagoya City, and eel in central Shizuoka.
According to the article, Japan is not the only country that goes for weird ice cream flavors. In various parts of the U.S., ice cream flavors include praline-chile, garlic, sauerkraut and minestrone.
But odd ice cream flavors in Japan have really taken off, where Sato's sweet shop began the trend of making ice cream out of local food specialities.
Among Sato's eighty-plus experimental ice cream flavors that paid off: abalone, salmon, crab, sea urchin, octopus and shark fin.
Sato had to solve several problems to make ice cream out of fish. For one thing, fish tend to freeze into rock-solid chunks when frozen. Then there's the incredibly fishy smell. Sato found he could solve the freezen problem by soaking the fish in alcohol, which doesn't freeze like water does. And he solved the smell problem in a variety of ways, depending on the fish. For instance, he boils octopus in brown tea, and steams shark fins with green onions and miso soup.
But saury smelled the worst, and was the most difficult challenge. Sato finally got rid of the fishy smell by putting the flesh through a seven step process, including soaking it in whiskey, brandy, and five other alcohols, then combining it with walnuts, almonds, peanuts and chocolate.
Kids love it -- especially the specks of fish meat mixed into the ice cream.
Recently, Sato was asked to create an ice cream out of pit viper, a deadly, poisonous snake. He skinned it, steamed it in sake (Japanese rice wine), and pulverized it in a juicer. According to the Wall Street Journal article, the ice cream that resulted was the color of toffee and smelled a little bit like fertilizer.
What's next for Mr. Sato? A local village has asked him to make ice cream out of their local specialty: fireflies. Perhaps he'll end up with an ice cream that lights up on the tip of your tongue!
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