Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice 吉泉山椒縮緬

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬
Sansho Chirimen Jako is a condiment in Japan that is usually eaten with, or sprinkled on rice. It is made by simmering dried sardine fry (jako) and fresh sansho pepper fruit (sansho-no-mi) in soy sauce, cooking sake and mirin. I got this much sought after sansho chirimen jako from Tanigawa-san at Kichisen. Kichisen only serves it at the restaurant and sometimes gives it as a gift to customers to take home.

Many households make their own sansho chirimen jako and it can be purchased at any supermarket or department store food court. There are a number of companies in Japan that just make sansho chirimen jako. Of course there are many grades of this condiment available. Tanigawa-san says that Kishisen’s sansho chirimen jako is different from other stores and restaurants because with his technique the dried fish doesn’t get ‘soggy’ while cooking.

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako – Wrapping
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Kichisen’s sansho chirimen jako comes in a beautiful wooden box, branded with the Kichisen logo on the cover. Tanigawa-san says that they use only the freshest sansho pepper fruit, his apprentices then handpick out the best. It is surprisingly high powered for Japanese cuisine.. If you have had Szechuan pepper you know this tongue and lip numbing sensation. In Japanese cuisine, sansho is used green, not ripened and dried and I think that it is even more numbing than the Chinese variety. So, a little goes a long way, especially in Japanese cuisine.

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako – Unwrapping
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

To do justice to this excellent sansho chirimen jako, I made white rice in a gohan nabe, not the electric rice cooker. Miwa made this side dish with some interesting vegetables that I got at the Kyoto Central Wholesale Food Market; they were a traditional Yamato (Nara) vegetable and a traditional Naniwa (Osaka) vegetable. The Nara vegetable I had never seen or heard of before. It is very long and slender Japanese togarashi peppers, called Himo Togarashi, or yarn peppers. Like other Japanese peppers, they are not very hot and spicy. They were rather bitter, which I found interesting and unexpected. The Naniwa vegetable is a kind of eggplant that is fairly common but is usually used to make tsukemono pickles.

Gohan Nabe Rice
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Gohan Nabe Rice
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Gohan Nabe Rice
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬
The slightly burned rice at the bottom of the gohan nabe is called o-koge and is usually considered a treat to Japanese. O-koge is proof that the rice was cooked the old fashioned way.

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako – Served on Rice
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako – Served on Rice
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako and Summer Vegetables
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Heirloom Nara Vegetable: Himo Togarashi (Yarn Pepper)
Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice  吉泉山椒縮緬

Chirimen Jako – Uncooked
Alternative to Tokyo Tsukiji Market: Kyoto Wholesale Food Market 京都中央卸市場
This is what the dried sardine fry look like before simmering. (image from this OpenKyoto article)

7 Responses to “Kichisen Sansho Chirimen Jako on Gohan Nabe Rice”

  1. Wow that really does look good. the sansho is actually green! I like making takikomi gohan with sansho chirimen and fresh bamboo, but this looks like it’s too high quality for that. Best to enjoy it over rice:-)

  2. kat says:

    that looks like premium sansho chirimen jako!

  3. Lisa says:

    We were so enamored with the Sansho Chirimen Jako we tasted on our recent travels to Japan that we brought some home, purchased from the Nishiki market. Thank you for your wonderful post. I am curious about some practical things when it comes to Sansho Chirimen Jako. Are you storing your wooden box in the fridge? How long will your Sansho Chirimen Jako keep in storage — for best flavor, how many weeks/months should you consume it by? Do you ever serve Sansho Chirimen Jako in any other way?

  4. Peko Peko says:

    Hi Marc, I have never used chirimen jako in takikomi gohan, but it sounds good! Tanigawa-san swears that his sansho chirimen jako is different than the competition’s, especially the kind that comes in a glass jar or bottle, because his is rather crunchy, his never gets ‘soggy’ while cooking — so you can’t get the real thing abroad, he swears. (We are assuming that it is not being produced domestically in the US, etc.)

    Hi kat, お久しぶりです!Yes, it is good stuff! Sorry I haven’t stopped by your site recently, I will though. Please come again!

    Hello Lisa, Tanigawa-san says that is OK not to refrigerate it in the hot weather, but you might want to. If you do, use it quickly so that it doesn’t absorb the ‘stink’ of the refrigerator. Tanigawa-san said that it will keep for up to three months, but he recommends using it in 2 weeks or so. Regarding how to serve it, Marc (above) puts it in takikomi gohan but when I have it, I usually eat it with rice. Also, I did just keep it in the wooden box in the refrigerator — and got told off by Tanigawa-san for that. I noticed that it dried out quite quickly, so use it soon or wrap it to preserve the moisture content. (I think in Tanigawa-san’s mind, the moisture content is the difference between the good and the bad.)

  5. Mora says:

    Oh be still my heart! One of my top 5 favorite meals: gohan no nabe and sansho-chirimen. Thank you for the wonderful photos and memories.

  6. Forager says:

    Yum! Funnily enough my mother used to make a similar Chinese dish when I was a kid and had a picky appetite. The sardines she used weren’t as small and delicate as your version, and she often flavoured the dish with soy, ginger and garlic. Such yummy childhood memories. I bet I’d like this too!

  7. Peko Peko says:

    Hello Mora, One of your top 5? Really! Look for sansho chirimen in the KyotoFoodie online store — coming soon.

    Hello Forager, I am checking out your blog now. I haven’t been to Vietnam yet but I love, love, love the food! I am sure that you would like this dish. Do you have sansho in Vietnamese cuisine though?

    I am really enjoying this post: http://foragingotaku.blogspot.com/2009/08/vietnamese-eating-tour-mighty-mekong.html

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