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This is a past article published in Hiragana Times. Each Japanese paragraph is followed by its English translation or vise versa, and furigana are placed above each kanji to make Japanese study even easier. [Magazine Sample] [Subscription Page]

Iwashi no Kabayaki (Sauteed Sardine in Sweet Soy Sauce)

[From August Issue 2010]

Ingredients [Serves 2] 

  • 2 medium-size sardines (200g)
  • 1 tbsp starch
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • a pinch of sansho (Japanese pepper)

(A)

  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin (sweet sake)
  • 1 tbsp sake

amazu shoga (ginger pickled in sweet vinegar, available in stores)

Kabayaki: is a dish made by broiling or frying fish such as eel, conger eel, saury and sardines in a thick sweet sauce. It is believed that the name “kabayaki” originates from the old days when eels were skewered and broiled whole, which looked like “Gama no Ho” (the ears of cattails).

Tebiraki: Sardine flesh is soft enough for you to open it with your hands.
1. Cut off the head, split open the belly lengthwise and remove the organs. Clean with water and wipe dry.

2. Place both of your thumbs along the backbone, then sliding them downwards remove the meat from the bone as it opens up.

3. Place the fish on the cutting board, snap the back bone at the tail and remove from the fish.

4. Angle a kitchen knife and shave off the small bones from the belly.

5. Cut off the dorsal fin by holding it with the knife then pulling the tail.


1. Split open the sardines with your hands, using the “tebiraki” technique.

2. Mix (A) to make sauce.

3. Before frying, coat both sides of the fish with starch and tap off the excess. Use a tea strainer to lightly sprinkle the starch.

4. Pour cooking oil into the frying pan and leave on medium heat. Place the fish in the pan skin-side up. Fry for about 3 minutes flipping over once brown. Fry for another 2 to 3 minutes then remove from pan.

5. Wipe the remaining oil from the pan with a paper towel. Pour the sauce into the pan over medium heat, then when it begins to bubble, put the fish back in skin-side down. With a spoon, quickly pour the sauce over the fish, without flipping it over. Turn off the heat before the sauce comes to a boil.

6. Place the fish on a plate skin-side down with the tail to the right. Then, pour the sauce on to make it look glazed. Arrange the amazu shoga on the plate and sprinkle the fish with sansho.


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