Yakizakana: Komochi Maruboshi Nishin (Grilled Dried Herring with Eggs) 焼き魚: 子持ち丸干しにしん
In Japan there are literally more ways to prepare fish than one can easily imagine. Yakizakana, grilled fish, is one of my all time favorites. Sakana-no-hoshimono, dried fish, is extremely tasty and quick and easy to make. I discovered this one the other day, it is a whole dried herring with it’s own eggs inside.
About Dried Fish for Grilling in Japan
There are many kinds of drying processes used for fish here. ‘Dried’ overnight with just a bit of salt is very common and tasty. Dried with varying degrees of saltiness; sweet, middle and very salty are also common. This herring is dried with some salt and it’s own eggs filling the entrails cavity. This herring wasn’t dried rock hard, but was semi-dried and soft and juicy after cooking.
Yakizakana: Whole Dried Herring – Uncooked
Yakizakana: Whole Dried Herring – Grilled and Served
Yakizakana 焼き魚: grilled fish
Komochi 子持ち: literally, ‘has child’ (egg)
Maruboshi 丸干し: whole dried (fish)
Nishin にしん: herring
How Did it Taste?
Salty, but not too salty, just the right amount to contrast well with rice. I used the leftovers for chazuke, tea poured over flavored rice, the chopped herring adding the flavor.
The herring did have a slight ‘pickled’ flavor. Herring eggs are rather chewy and are the source of the unusual flavor, I think. The taste reminded me slightly of spiced sausage and seemed a little bergamoty, but, ever so slightly. There is no spice used in the drying process.
This herring was pretty large, about 20cm.
Unfortunately this kind of fish is not yet widely available in English speaking countries. Drying then grilling small fish is a great way to enjoy eating fish with the bones, and usually the head and guts included. (Miwa did remove the larger bones from this one but the rib bones I ate.) I am sure that an enterprising foodie entrepreneur abroad will popularize this genre of fish preparation someday, hopefully someday pretty soon!
Yakizakana: Whole Dried Herring – Egg Sac Detail
Yakizakana: Whole Dried Herring – detail