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Stingray pupu offers a familiar experience

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    Grilled dry stingray (eihire) served at Rinka restaurant, $9.75.


    Thin pieces of dry stingray before it is grilled.

A young colleague at work told me she can’t eat stingray because she’s seen the movies “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory,” where an eagle ray named Mr. Ray is a teacher to young fish.

I haven’t seen the movies.

And the eihire no aburi, lightly grilled stingray, served at Rinka in the Ala Moana area looks nothing like a cartoon.

If you enjoy dried Japanese fish such as squid or cuttlefish, you might like stingray.

Mitch Dang, assistant manager at Rinka, a Japanese restaurant and izakaya, said stingray is a popular dish in Japan. Like most food at izakaya, or Japanese pubs, it goes well with beer and sake.

“When you go to an izakaya, you would have these small dishes, something with texture and something with impact,” Dang said.

Rinka’s dried red stingray comes from Japan. The meat, from the muscle area near the tail, is sometimes marinated in soy sauce or mirin before drying to give it extra flavor, Dang said.

“Chef will put it in the broiler for a few minutes, not too long or it will burn,” he said.

Heating softens the dried fish. After it’s toasted under the broiler, the stingray is sliced and served with a mayonnaise and dashi dipping sauce.

“It has that soft texture to it. It’s not rubbery. It’s a nice chew with a little crisp at the end from the burned parts,” Dang said.

The slices of stingray, priced at $9.75, look like grilled dried cuttlefish or squid, without the tentacles. But when you bite into them, the taste is not as fishy, and the meat is a little softer.

The stingray I had was sweet, perhaps because of the sweet mirin marinade. The dashi and Japanese mayonnaise also add sweetness. It has some chili flakes but the dish is not spicy.

Sorry, Mr. Ray, you might be cute but you also taste good.

Web producer Craig Gima tries out new foods in a video and print series every other Wednesday. Dare him to try a really scary food:

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