All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Dried fish

Niboshi dried sardines
For dashi stock. It gives more intense flavor than katsuobushi.

Remove head and guts, and toast in a frying pan without oil for several minutes (or microwave without cover for 60 seconds) and simmer 10-15 minutes, or soak entire niboshi in cold water overnight (at least several hours). 

Just as with any dashi source ingredient, can be ground and added as instant dashi.

Katuobushi bonito flakes
For dashi stock. Also used as a topping or as an ingredient in quick dishes.

For dashi use, select large flakes of bonito, which are called hana katsuo. Some katsuobushi contains other fish which can taste rough as dashi.

Those in small pieces (often in small packs) are for topping and adding to dishes, and do not impart a good taste or aroma to stock.

Sababushi mackerel flakes
Mackerel flakes impart a powerful, deep taste to dashi stock. Often used in combination with katsuobushi bonito flakes.

The photo at left shows the mixture of thickly shaved mackerel and bonito flakes I use for soba buckwheat noodle soup.

Shirasu dried young sardines
Use as a topping for steamed rice, as an ingredient in tamagoyaki omelet, ohitashi, and salad. 

As shirasu are not completely dried, they are found at refrigerated or frozen food sections at grocery stores.

Chirimen jako / iriko dried young sardines
Drier than shirasu, and usually found on dried food shelves at stores.

Shirasu and chirimen jako (or jako) are used interchangeably depending on the region in Japan. The same is true for chirimen jako and iriko, and for iriko and niboshi. Generally speaking, niboshi is the largest in size, followed by iriko and chirimen jako.

Chirimen jako is often sauteed and added to salad as a crunchy topping, or fried or cooked with other ingredients to add flavor and texture, as it works like instant dashi stock.

(Last updated: January 11, 2016)

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