Sardine (Iwashi)

Sardinops melanostictus

Also see: Sardine Sushi in Sushi Menu

The sardine is tastiest during autumn and early winter. It is a very weak fish, and can die instantly if pulled out of the water. Their scales can come off, and they are not tough enough to handle the atmospheric pressure as long as other fish. It also spoils very quickly and is thus widely known for its fishy smell. Sardines were very abundant, and called the “rice fish” because they were cheap as rice, and considered the food for the poor. They are decreasing in catches around Japan and feared of becoming rare in the near future.  

Though the sardine is considered a poor mans’ fish, it is a delicacy to eat it raw since it is difficult to have them in a fresh state. Raw sardines are sweet, and very rich in texture. Sardines are also packed with EPA and DHA (omega 3 fats), which are a characteristic of shiny fishes, and thus they are very healthy for the cardiovascular system.

The name iwashi is thought to have come from the word iyashii or (low in rank). They are good prepared as sashimi, grilled, tempura, or fried with bread curmbs.