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


Shimofuri “frosting” for quick-boil sealing

Shimofuri literally means "frosting," and is a technique to seal in umami, or savory taste. Shimofuri is often used for fish and meat. When used with fish, shimofuri also makes it easy to clean the surface of fish, including bloody lumps, membranes, scales and skin. It also eliminates the extra fishy smell in the final dish and helps fish pieces to stay intact in soup or broth. Shimofuri is a common prep method when making a soupy dish with fish and the fish is not grilled, sauteed or deep-fried as part of preparation. It is not necessary for dishes where fish is grilled or cooked with oil -- either sauteed or deep-fried -- because these processes can effectively conceal the fishiness in terms of both taste and smell.

Shimofuri is quite simple. You need a pot of boiling water and a bowl of ice water, in addition to your fresh fish or fish parts.


Bring water to boil.
Add fish (cut into desired size) to boiling water.

When fish surface turns opaque, immediately remove from boiling water and put in ice water.

When cool enough, gently rub to remove slimy surface, and remove bloody lumps, membranes, scales and skin. (Although a spoon is shown in the photo) This is usually easily done with your fingers and fingernails. Do this under slowly running cold water if ice water becomes cloudy.

(The same process with salmon below)


 (Scales are removed; skin also comes off easily)

  • Shimofuri is for very fresh fish. If fish does not look fresh (not firm, dull flesh color, dry look), it will not help. In this case, cook with oil.
  • When you do shimofuri with ara or bony parts near the head, you are likely to see bloody lumps behind the bones. After putting in ice water, remove the lumps as much as possible with a fine-tip tool such as a knife or skewer to prevent the fish pieces from imparting a raw bloody note on your tongue and nostrils in the final dish.
  • To make your final dish taste even more refined, first sprinkle salt on fish and let it sit for 30 minutes or so in the fridge. Wipe off any moisture on the surface, and then do shimofuri. Water contained in fish is the main source of its smell, and salting first to get rid of excess water reduces potential smelliness.

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