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July 10, 2013

Dominica: JICA's Diamondback Squid Cookbook Honored at Cookbook 'Oscars'
—Former JICA Expert Gathered Recipes to Increase Food Security in Dominica—

photoThe book features cooking tips, as well as Dominican and Japanese recipes.

A squid recipe collection written by a former JICA expert aiming to increase food security in the Caribbean was a finalist for a major cookbook award.

"53 Recipes of Diamondback Squid" by Mitsuhiro Ishida was chosen as one of five finalists in the Fish and Seafood Division of the French cookbook contest Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, held in February in Paris. The cookbook may be the first ever to focus on the diamondback squid, an underused food and protein source. It was written with the cooperation of JICA's counterparts and JICA overseas volunteers in Dominica.

The enormous diamondback squid (DBS) is more commonly found in the cuisine of Okinawa, where it is eaten as seared sashimi. Growing up to 1 meter in length and averaging 20 kilograms, it has fleshy, sweet meat that is only appetizing when prepared in certain ways.

photoDiamondback squid stroganoff

Mindful of this, Ishida, 48, of Chiba Prefecture, a former JICA expert in marine products who was stationed in Dominica, carefully selected the recipes before writing the book in 2011. He has worked for 20 years to increase squid consumption around the world. Dominican fishermen learned how to fish diamondback squid as a result of years of cooperation by Japan.

Dominica is an island country in the Caribbean. Ishida focused on recipes he thought would appeal to both Dominicans and tourists, and incorporated both Dominican and Japanese dishes.

Among the dishes in the book are pizza, pot stickers, coconut curry, stroganoff, macaroni and cheese, and "DBS Stamina Squid Punch," an alcoholic beverage. Japanese recipes include sushi and sashimi.

photoAuthor Mitsuhiro Ishida, a former JICA expert, promotes the use of squid as a food source.

"You are lucky! The DBS caught in Dominica is one of the tastiest squids in the world," Ishida wrote on the first page of the paperback, which is entirely in English.

Among the cooking tips in the book are that it is better to freeze diamondback squid before cooking to improve texture and taste, that it should not be cooked too long lest it get tough, and that it goes well with cheese. Ishida developed these techniques through trial and error.

When the book was completed, the Fisheries Division of the Dominican government printed approximately 2,000 copies and distributed them to related ministries and government offices in six countries in the Caribbean. There was an immediate reaction, as tourist hotels and restaurants in each country began introducing diamondback squid recipes.

DBS Stamina Squid Punch

photoThe mantle of a diamondback squid averages 80 centimeters in length
photoDBS Stamina Squid Punch

Serves 12

Ingredients
Diced DBS 200 g
1/2 lime
Nutmeg 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon stick 2
Water 2 cups

Black beer 150 ml
Evaporated milk 1 can (400 ml)
Condensed milk 1 can (400 ml)
Nutmeg 1/2 tsp
Brandy 200 ml
Sugar and water to taste

Preparation
Wash diced DBS with lime and cook into the pan with upper ingredients for 5 minutes after boiling. Cool it down. Put cooked DBS, water and one cinnamon stick into blender. Add all lower ingredients into it and blend well. Add brandy, sugar and water to taste. Put them through a very fine sieve and keep it chilled.

Without brandy, it is called BPP, or Basic Power Pack.
With brandy, it is called APP, or. Advanced Power Pack.

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