Katsuhiko Ueda, a former fisherman with the unusual background of having been a former Fisheries Agency employee, is working on reviving Japan’s fish eating habits through the"SAKANA & JAPAN PROJECT".
The project, found on YouTube at "Uekatsu straight road down the fish road,” using the catchy abbreviation of Ueda’s first and last names. It was developed jointly with The Sankei Shimbun, based on the outline of articles under the same title serialized in the daily newspaper.
Ueda uses his YouTube shows to teach how to handle and cook seasonal varieties of fish to bring out their best flavors.
He was involved in dolphin fishing as a university student. After taking a leave of absence to become a fisherman, he joined the Japan Fisheries Agency, where he conducted whale research in the Antarctic Ocean, and studied the development of tuna resources in the Pacific Ocean.
Sensing a crisis in that Japanese people were “straying away from fish, he left the agency to set up an association for reviving interest in eating fish.
Sometimes referred to as a "fish missionary," Ueda has made it his life’s mission to help people find new ways to enjoy the pleasure of eating fish.
The Power of Tuna
This time, he started his YouTube program because in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, he realized the potential from giving cooking classes and lectures online.
"You can reach more people who can watch the show repeatedly,” Ueda explained. “Participants can learn at home in their own kitchen with confidence. There are other advantages over a real cooking class, since we can zoom-in to certain objects, like the cutting board."
He chose bluefin tuna for the first episode, and bought about 30 kg of fresh bluefin tuna to cut up on the show. He then divided the fish into more than 40 sections, using each part in suitable recipes to make 12 dishes.
"The appeal of tuna is that you can enjoy different tastes for each part and cook them the way you want. Some are high-class products and some are more economical. It is this versatile characteristic that makes it a bridge between fish and meat.” said Ueda.
There are 9 types of sashimi platters. In addition, he uses kama and ella (considered the tastiest part of the fish around the gills), skin, and tail to fry or make green curry, which shows how to eat as a dish straight off the fishermen’s tuna boat.
"I am impressed by the power of tuna," Ueda said.
Quintessential Autumn with Sanma
The second episode is scheduled to show the autumn taste of sanma, also known as Pacific saury.
"I would like to continue to share the best way to eat seasonal fish, along with the secrets of all kinds of cooking," added Ueda.
About Katsuhiko Ueda: Uekatsu Fisheries Corp. President, he was born in 1964 in Shimane prefecture. Ueda graduated from the Faculty of Fisheries, Nagasaki University. His books include "Fish dishes from eyes to scales.” He has made many TV appearances, among them "Jonetsu Tairiku"(passionate continent) and “Sekai Ichiban Uketai Jugyou,” (The Class that you want to attend the most in the world.)
(Read the Sankei Shimbun report in Japanese at this link.)
Author: The Sankei Shimbun