Writer: Yumiko Ishimaru
Most Japanese think that NIBOSHI is made of anchovies. NIBOSHI (煮干し) literary means that “thing that are boiled (煮-Ni) and dried (干し-Boshi)”, therefore, dried mackerel, small sea bream, flying fish, adductor muscles and shrimp are also NIBOSHI. Among them, flying fish is mainly used in Kyushu area. As they call it Ago, the soup stock made from flying fish is usually called AGO-DASHI (dashi means soup stock).
But today, let us focus on anchovies.
Among all the ingredients for DASHI, the NIBOSHI is very susceptible to oxidation due to its fatness. So the freshness is vital!’
The Master of the dried foods wholesale market in Tsukiji told us that “Good NIBOSHI is silver and shiny, soft and not yellow”.
There are 2 different kinds of anchovies, SHIROKUCHI and AOKUCHI. Both are accentuated in fish taste, but SHROKUCHI is more elegant, and rich in taste and scent.
It seems similar to dried bonito flakes, but the anchovy NIBOSHI has its own uniqueness as DASHI ingredients.
Some people take out the head and clean inside before taking dashi from the anchovy NIBOSHI, but great taste of DASHI can be made without these process if the NIBOSHI is fresh enough. DASHI finely released from anchovy NIBOSHI, which is rich in fish flavor and scent, is a perfect match to cook Miso soup and simmered dish.
In the western part of Japan (Seto Island sea and Kyushu area), anchovy NIBOSHI is called IRIKO, and the “IBUKIJIMA no IRIKO” is the famous NIBOSHI brand that is produced in Ibukizima in Kagawa prefecture. Even though the amount of production is not one of the top, it is still very popular for its freshness and high grade.
If you have a chance to visit Shikoku, please try their popular local food “Sanuki UDON” the soup broth is made with IRIKO.