Father and son set out to catch premium-quality fish distinctive enough to merit their own brand
“When you cut open a monkfish,” Suzuki told us, “you often find in its belly small fish such as sardines and mackerel that it swallowed whole. That goes to show you just how rich and fertile the waters off Fukushima are. It’s the single best indicator of how tasty the fish is” Ken Suzuki, captain of the Daisan Jinyo Maru out of Iwaki, told us.
Still, verbal tussles are part of everyday life for the two men working together. “He’s definitely stubborn, so even if there’s a more efficient way of doing something, he’ll try to go back and do it the way it’s always been done,” Suzuki says with a wry grin. Suzuki’s father is such a big name in the Iwaki fishing world that you won’t find a local fisherman who doesn’t know who he is. It was a long, arduous recovery for the local fishing industry after the Great East Japan Earthquake, and Suzuki’s father shouldered the heavy responsibility of chairing the Trial Fishing Committee of the Iwaki City Fishing Cooperative, driving his community out of the crisis. “My father is my pride and joy,” Suzuki told us. “Nobody else could have done what he did.”
“Every part of the monkfish is delicious,” he explained. “The meat is packed with flavor, the liver is rich and mild―even the skin is plump and flavorful. Nothing gets wasted. It’s a premium fish that often gets served at local inns and gastropubs so in time I hope to make it an officially recognized brand. When you think about it that way,” he concluded, “monkfish is already locally renowned as the crowning jewel of Joban catch products.”
So what does Fukushima Pride mean to him? “You look out on this abundant sea, catch unbelievably delicious fish, serve it to people, and make them happy,” he said. “What could be better than that? Just being able to do that day in and day out is a source of pride.”
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