This dish is typical of Japanese cooking in its simplicity. Serve the fish as a luncheon or supper dish with a simple green salad, or as part of a Japanese meal. If sweet sake or mirin is unobtainable, dry pale sherry may be used as a substitute.
4 large herrings, cleaned and slit open
4 tablespoons sweet sake (mirin)
4 tablespoons sake
8 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped chives
Wipe the herrings with damp kitchen paper towels. Place one herring on a board, with the cavity side down and the flaps of skin spread out. Press the back-bone firmly with the heel of your hand until the herring is flattened. Turn the herring over and carefully remove the backbone and the large bones near the head. Discard the bones. Cut the herring in two lengthways. Make three cuts on the skin side, but do not cut completely through the flesh. Repeat this process with the remaining herrings.
In a small saucepan, heat the sweet sake and sake over moderate heat for 3 minutes. Ignite the wines, remove the pan from the heat and allow to burn until the flames die down.
Preheat the grill to moderate.
Stir the soy sauce and sugar into the wines in the saucepan and pour the mix-ture into a shallow dish. Place the herring fillets in the dish and baste them well with the liquid.
Transfer the fillets to the grill rack and. grill for 5 minutes. Remove the fillets from the heat, dip them in the liquid again and grill the other side for 5 minutes.
Remove the fillets from the heat and place them on a heated serving dish. Sprinkle over the black pepper, parsley and chives. Pour the basting liquid into a warmed sauceboat and serve.