While I was in Japan, my dad bought iwashi (sardine) from a local seafood shop. Iwashi is miracle fish – it can be eaten in many ways. Grilled, deep-fried, poached, simmered in sauce, and even raw as sashimi. I love young sardine (shirasu/jako) too. I often ate young sardine in Japan by just sprinkling on steamed rice. I just love it!
You may find it not easy to eat iwashi due to its small bones. But actually you can eat the bones too if you cook the fish very well. The iwashi my dad bought had been trimmed already (gutted and head had been chopped off), so I didn’t need to do anything but placing into simmering sauce to make nitsuke. (a dish used simmering technique)
Almost any fish can be cooked as nitsuke. I think the common fish used for nitsuke are saba (Mackerel), sardine and salmon. Sauce for nitsuke is usually soy sauce-based, but miso-based one is also often used. For both sauces, ginger and sake (cooking wine) are used to kill the smell of fish.
The iwashi I used for this iwashi-no-nitsuke was pretty small and got lots of bones, but I could just eat them. Serve with steamed rice, miso soup and pickles, and now you have a set of beautiful Japanese food.
<Iwashi-no-Nitsuke> serves 3~4
- 10 iwashi (sardine), gutted and head removed
- 1 cup sake (cooking wine)
- 1 tbs sugar
- 2 tbs mirin
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 clove ginger (about 3cm)
- recipe -
- Wash iwashi in cold water, and pat to dry with kitchen paper. Set aside.
- Slice ginger.
- In a wide sauce pan, place sake. Bring to the gentle simmer to burn off the alcohol.
- Add sugar, soy sauce, and mirin. Arrange iwashi into the pan, level (flat), and scatter sliced ginger around. Turn the heat to low.
- Cut baking paper or aluminium foil into about same size as the pan. Crumple the paper, and place on top of iwashi to cover. Place a lid, and simmer until the liquid is almost gone and becomes sticky.
- Turn off the heat, and let the iwashi cool down slightly. The flavour will be absorbed during the cooling process.
- Serve with steamed rice.