Between Tokyo and Kyoto lies the Izu Peninsula. This peninsula surrounded by the sea boasts a variety of local traditional dishes revolving around fish. Among them, Aotō Tataki is a seasonal dish made only when green chili peppers, known as “Aotōgarashi,” are available (*It can be made year-round if the peppers are frozen, but the fish may vary).
A ’RYOSHI-MESHI’（Fisherman’s meal）, as the name suggests, refers to the food that fishermen eat during breaks from their work. It is known for its simple preparation but delicious taste, as it is cooked and eaten while working. Aotō Tataki involves mincing fish and green chili peppers together using a kitchen knife. The result is a flavorful dish with a spicy kick that pairs perfectly with the salty umami of soy sauce, making it a great accompaniment to sake.
Although any type of fish can be used, in Izu, it is common to use fish such as Souda Gatsuo (bonito) or Aji (horse mackerel) that are available during the green chili pepper season. (The photo shows Souda Gatsuo.) In particular, Souda Gatsuo is not widely available in urban areas due to its swift nature (and quick degradation in freshness). In fact, during my 23 years of working in the Tokyo, I had never seen it.
We highly recommend visiting Izu and giving it a try!