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Old 06-18-2007, 03:35 PM   #1
Undertoad
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June 18, 2007: Ukai, traditional Japanese comorant fishing



Welcome, it's Neatorama Collaboration Monday!



The Sydney Morning Herald had this one featuring Ukai, a traditional fishing method that has been used in Japan for 1300 years, or so they say. In Ukai, you use a sea bird, a comorant, on a leash to fish for you.

It's pretty disgusting and so the practice is pretty much limited to a small group of traditional fishermen. Why?

This page has more detail, including the note that they have to prevent the bird from eating the fish somehow. So they put a small ring around its neck, and once the bird catches something...



..you make it cough up the goods.

According to Neatorama's Alex, the practice was originally founded in China.

Be sure to visit Neatorama for more neato items all the time!
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Old 06-18-2007, 03:52 PM   #2
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Birds always swallow fish head first to avoid being impaled on the fish's spines. I wonder how they disgorge the fish without getting injured?
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:02 PM   #3
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This fishing practice features in one of the Bond books.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:12 PM   #4
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I remember cormorant fishing from the book Island of the Blue Dolphins.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:24 PM   #5
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I remember cormorant killing from that book, but not fishing. There was some other kid's book that had fishing thing in it, wasn't there?

The girl had a cape or skirt of cormorant skins, IIRC. (Funny, I know the dog's name was Rontu (and his son Rontu-Aru) but I can't remember hers for nothin'. Did they ever give it?)
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Old 06-18-2007, 09:44 PM   #6
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I'm assuming they cook these fish pretty much right on the spot, then?
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:02 PM   #7
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I don't think so, I thought they feed the tourists mostly.
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolf View Post
The girl had a cape or skirt of cormorant skins, IIRC. (Funny, I know the dog's name was Rontu (and his son Rontu-Aru) but I can't remember hers for nothin'. Did they ever give it?)
was it zia? or was the name of her niece in the sequel?
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:19 AM   #9
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i wonder what they have the burning basket for?

- light for the fish to see them, being curious and come to the surface
- to stress the cormorant
- to keep warm
- for a simple and quick BBQ after pulling out the fish of the birds throat

other theories...?
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:32 AM   #10
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How about....

Quote:
Originally Posted by rupip View Post
i wonder what they have the burning basket for?

- light for the fish to see them, being curious and come to the surface
- to stress the cormorant
- to keep warm
- for a simple and quick BBQ after pulling out the fish of the birds throat

other theories...?
Marshmallow roast?
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Old 06-19-2007, 09:50 AM   #11
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The light from the fire attracts the fish. Around these parts they use a camping lantern. The Japs also use a drum, or beat on the boat, to attract the fish but I should think that would drive them away.
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Old 06-19-2007, 11:32 AM   #12
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Is that a Japanese smurfette working on the boat?
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Old 06-19-2007, 11:40 AM   #13
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wonder what they have the burning basket for?

The burning basket is to singe off the cormorant feathers before they eat them. That's what happens after selling the fish to tourists. Tastes like chicken.
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Old 06-19-2007, 01:50 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spudcon View Post
The burning basket is to singe off the cormorant feathers before they eat them. That's what happens after selling the fish to tourists. Tastes like chicken.
I can't think of a bird less likely to taste like chicken. Also, ask yourself - if cormorants are so damn tasty, they are used to catch fish rather than eaten.

Still, if you're still hankering for a cormorant recipe:

Quote:
Having shot your cormorant, hold it well away from you as you carry it home; these birds are exceedingly verminous and the lice are said to be not entirely host-specific. Hang up by the feet with a piece of wire, soak in petrol and set on fire. This treatment both removes most of the feathers and kills the lice.

When the smoke has cleared away, take the cormorant down and cut off the beak. Send this to the local Conservancy Board who, if you are in the right area, will give you 3/6d or sometimes 5/- for it. Bury the carcase, preferably in a light sandy soil, and leave it there for a fortnight. This is said to improve the flavour by removing, in part at least, the taste of rotting fish.

Dig up and skin and draw the bird. Place in a strong salt and water solution and soak for 48 hours. Remove, dry, stuff with whole, unpeeled onions: the onion skins are supposed to bleach the meat to a small extent, so that it is very dark brown instead of being entirely black.

Simmer gently in seawater, to which two tablespoons of chloride of lime have been added, for six hours. This has a further tenderising effect. Take out of the water and allow to dry, meanwhile mixing up a stiff paste of methylated spirit and curry powder. Spread this mixture liberally over the breast of the bird.

Finally roast in a very hot oven for three hours. The result is unbelievable. Throw it away. Not even a starving vulture would eat it.
From Countryman’s Cooking, by W.M.W. Fowler, published by Excellent Press, via Times Online
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Old 06-19-2007, 02:17 PM   #15
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I don't remember the book too well, but I do remember reading it in school. We probably learned about the cormorant fishing then.
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