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Nuisance for Japanese fishermen becomes specialty cuisine

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Lake Hamana stingray served with a seaweed-based sauce

[HAMAMATSU] Stingray caught in Lake Hamana, Shizuoka Prefecture, is being promoted as an ingredient by local chefs even though the fish is not often used in cuisine.

Fishermen consider stingrays a nuisance but advocates have been highlighting their crunchy texture.

Hisayuki Adachi, 65, owner and chef of French restaurant Harmony in Iwata in the prefecture, has recently been serving stingray at events held for people involved in the restaurant industry. He said he became interested in the texture of stingray cartilage and the delicate flavor of the fish.

"Stingray is a great ingredient. I want more restaurants to use the fish," he said.

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In French cuisine, it is considered a delicacy.

Adachi once served a dish that featured Lake Hamana stingray in a seaweed-based sauce at an event. He cooked stingray fins in bouillon stock and served it with a white wine sauce. According to Adachi, people who ate the dish were surprised, and some said their impression of stingray changed.

Adachi does not serve the dish at his restaurant because he cannot get a regular supply of the fish. However, "I want to suggest various stingray recipes," he said.

Fishermen dislike stingrays because they eat shrimp, crabs and asari clams. They also have strong poison in their tails and give off an odor of ammonia when they lose their freshness. However, if fishermen utilize the fish, it could be marketed as a local specialty, and would also lead to better catches of asari and other food that stingrays prey on.

A local research group that works on the planning of fishery products in Hamamatsu has produced smoked stingray fin and fried hanpen cake made of ground stingray meat and other products with the cooperation of local associations of fisheries and tourism, among other organizations.

Smoked stingray is soft and good to eat with mayonnaise, while fried hanpen has the amazing combination of the soft and crunchy texture of cartilage.

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