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January 06, 2013


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I'm a Londoner who loves good food and have only recently enjoyed my first trip to Japan, having wanted to go for so long. Of course, one short trip wasn't enough for me to try the many, many, many specialities of Japan but I must say, we did eat well.

You say "The good is very good, the bad is very bad. And the mediocre is pretty common." but, in comparison to other countries, I'm not sure that the mediocre is that common. Then again, I guess it depends on what scale you are using. I found that was is considered mediocre in Japan is often really rather superb compared to home.

And I say this as someone who fights against the outdated idea of British food as bland and boring.

I can't wait to make many more trips to Japan so I can continue to try the good, bad, mediocre --- whatever I can!


Thanks for teaching me about shiokara.


a nice, timely post -- i just sampled some decent shiokara at Odakyu Ox (some fancy supermarket at my nearest station) and immediately wanted some very badly. no access to extremely fresh squid here, unfortunately, and trek to Tsukiji is a long one... alas. one day!

(also, i confess to sending my friend in the States a jar of yuzu shiokara --- she does live in the Midwest, so fresh seafood-anything is pretty much out of the question. one day i'll have to try making some for her.)


Kavey: When I first came here everything tasted good, but the curse of living and eating on a farm for the last 22 years means that I can tell the difference with inferior raw ingredients. The basic Japanese diet (not counting fried foods) is intrinsically much healthier than some of our Western foods but I'm not a big fan of convenience style food - "healthy" or not - and that is the way of the world here once you pull back the curtains. Another curse of living here so long is seeing behind.

Furo-chan: When people tell me they think Tokyo is convenient I roll my eyes. We have everything we need at our fingertips in the area where we live. And it doesn't take a 40 minute train ride to get it!


Great post. I will try it.

Here's a comic I made a few years ago, showing the fish-drying baskets my neighbors use:


Emma Boast

明けましておめでとうございます! So glad to see you back here. I was first initiated to shiokara while staying with a friend's grandparents in Hakodate, aka squid central. Thought it was vile at first, but I've sinced warmed up to it immensely, especially when paired with cold beer to cut the salt.


Roberto: Very cool comic. Love the drawings.

Emma: As usual, I am late in responding. Try preparing shiokara at home. Totally addicting! I will be in NYC for two days (Feb 25 & 26) for the Food 52 Piglet Award Party. Check out their website about it and come if you can!

Erica of Kizzling Around

I developed a taste for shiokara right as I was leaving Japan (go figure), but never thought to make it myself. I'll have to try it some time!

Thank you also for adding the bit about how important it is that we consider how sealife is caught and what an impact it can have on even the ability to make certain dishes. I will always have the deepest respect for fishermen who take pride in their work and catch each creature individually and not on large fishing vessels that produce a large amount of by-catch.


Late in responding but when it comes to shiokara I simply can't keep quiet. As you well know, I adore shiokara and have since the first time it was freshly made for me by a sushi chef friend at Sushi Ran in Sausalito. It would definitely be on my last meal on earth menu and include a bowl of perfectly cooked rice and bottle of equally fine sake. Thanks,Nancy, for providing such great detail on how to make it. It's on the "make this next" list.

Charles F. Sommers

I fell in love with shiokara many years ago while stationed at Yokota AB on the outskirts of Tokyo. My Japanese wife of the last fifty years recently got me a container of this heavenly food while shopping at a Japanese Market in Nashville, Tennessee. It may not be as good as homemade but I find it to be very passable, especially when accompanied by an ice cold beer or two.

I don't worry about any MSG it might contain. I remember seeing MSG on restaurant tables along with the salt, pepper, and shoyu back in the 1960s. It seemed to have done little damage to those who consumed it as they were among the longest lived people on earth even back then.

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