Raw Fish with Lime

Terrible title, but I couldn’t resist the pun.

Lime was actually silly enough to be apologetic for not cooking me a birthday dinner, perhaps because I cooked her a birthday dinner with her choice of menu. But really, she shouldn’t have been apologetic at all, since she took me to a really, really nice restaurant and we had 회—which for the Korean challenged, could be called sashimi or simply “raw fish”.

Now, in my experience, there are two kinds of places that serve raw fish. The first are those that just give you the fish itself, plus some dipping sauce, and maybe a side dish or two. This is the kind of place people have raw fish for dinner with a friend, when they feel like eating that but not like making a big production out of dinner.

Then there’s the hardcore raw fish places, where you get a huge number of side-dishes to supplement the fish. The number of dishes is beyond counting, and they are delivered in (apparent) order of deliciousness, until the fish comes as a kind of climax of the meal, crescendoing down through a soup made with what’s left of the fish, and some rice.

Lime took me to a place of the latter variety, except that it had a special quality I’d not seen before: I’d say 80-90% of the side dishes had their origins in the sea! Shellfish, sea snails, cooked fish, pickled and sauced fish, crab, squid and even live octopus, and all kinds of other creatures of the sea all loaded the table. Of course, there were a few side dishes that were only partly sea-related, like the squid pa-jeon, a kind of green onion pancake made with pieces of squid in it. But almost every thing had at least a little of the sea in it.

And a pint of Baskin Robbins ice cream, and a very strong backrub, which, along with the medicated patch I applied to my back, I credit for the alleviation of a lot of my pain.

It was a quiet birthday, and perhaps the first birthday in years where I did not drink alcohol—by my own choice: Lime offered, but when your back hurts, the last thing you want to do is drink, and then walk even more unstably and hurt you back even more—but drifting off into sleep, I was happy. And isn’t that the point of a birthday?

I hope her day’s going well today. She’s started in the E.R. this morning, which she told me includes inserting Foley catheters and giving old men enemas. Not half as exciting as the TV show E.R. would have led you to imagine.

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