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


Shiozake no shionuki / desalination of salted salmon

A solution to the dilemma of shiozake being too salty. Soaking in only water or salted water could take away umami at the same time. Try a mixture of water, sake and mirin. Shiozake, even those that are not too salty, will benefit from this easy step to mildly salty, flavorful taste.


(Per 1-2 shiozake salted salmon)
200-250 cc water
1 tbsp sake
1-2 tsp mirin


In a container, put water, sake and mirin, and mix well.


Soak shiozake for 2+ hours to overnight, depending on desired desalination level.

(After 5 hours)

(I grilled the salmon above and used it as an onigiri filling.)

  • 100 g amakuchi or amajio [low-salt] type shiozake contains 800-1,000+ mg sodium. Actual content varies by the amount of salt used and how long the fish has been preserved. Karakuchi [high-salt] type contains at least twice as much sodium as low-salt type.
  • In my experiments, soaking shiozake in the above solution for 2-3 hours reduces sodium content by 60+%; soaking for 6+ hours cuts sodium by 80+%.
  • When shiozake is made with benizake (benijake) sockeye salmon, it retains its red flesh color relatively well even after soaking (photo at right). Other types of salmon, including the above example, would look paler after soaking, but this does not affect taste.
  • Another great way to desalinate shiozake is to marinate it in sakekasu sake lees. See sake no kasuzuke [grilled salmon marinated in sake lees] for the recipe.

(Last updated: February 18, 2014)


Anonymous said...

Hi, I tried your Shiozake recipe with 2 percent salt and then followed the instructions for the desalination but found the salmon to be just a tad not salty enough. Would soaking for only 1 hour do anything at all? Or would you recommend sprinkling more salt after the desalination of 2-3 hours? Even though that seems kind of counterintuitive? Thanks so much for your help!

neco said...

Hi Eve,
The desalination process is for "done" salted salmon. The salmon has to be salted and sit in the fridge for a few days or weeks in the freezer. Salted salmon is ready as shiozake when the surface of the fish is a bit sticky, which you might consider that the fish is starting to be decaying.
If you want to prep fresh salmon with salmon before main cooking by sprinkling salt to get rid of excess moisture, it is a totally different process from making shiozake or shiojake salted salmon.

Anonymous said...

Hi again, I did salt the salmon for one day before doing the desalination. I should have mentioned that. However, now I am a little confused about the "decaying" part you were talking about. Does the fish need to be refrigerated until it is starting to decay??

neco said...

No, of course not. Sorry for the confusion. Shiozake's surface would feel a bit slimy when it is ready (salted and sit in the fridge for few days). That is usually a sign for the beginning of decaying with fresh fish (but not the case with salted salmon). Does this explain?
After salted for one day, 1-2 hours should be enough to soak salted salmon for desalination. Please also note the desalination process is to really remove salt, and what you get as a result is non-salty salmon.