Dried Fish (干物)

Himono (dried fish) is a generic term for processed foods made by drying various sea foods such as fish. Drying makes the surface of seafood become hard, which ensures a better shelf life. The drying process also makes the distinct texture and taste to the seafood. Fish is generally cleaned, butterflied and dried but small fish such as sardines are normally dried whole and served as 'Maruboshi'(dried whole fish).

This is a common processing method used in areas where there is a large volume of fish caught and dried fish is being produced in countries around the world in addition to Japan.

Aong with rice, miso soup, pickles, Japanese omelet and nori seaweed sheet, dried fish is one of the essential items on the breakfast table in Japan. It is also popular as a souvenier in the oceanfront areas throughout Japan.

Kanbutsu (dry food) is another form of dried seafood, but is made by thoroughly drying part of it, or the whole seafood.

Ventilation is considered particularly important when making dried fish and it is believed that the best dried fish is produced when it is exposed to dry air blowing in winter. In summer, the intense heat of the sun cooks the fish spoiling its flavor. In view of the foregoing, it is said that shade-dried fish tastes better.

Even when the term 'drying in the sun' is used, it is common to dry fish in the sun for approximately one hour and then placed into the shade for the rest of drying process. The photograph accompanying this article shows fish drying in the sun, but they remain in the sun for a very brief period and approximately one hour after being dried, the fish will be available to sell.

Types of Dried Fish
Suboshi (whole wind died fish)
This method has been done since olden days. With this long-standing method, the importance is placed upon extending the shelf-life of the product and to control the growth of bacteria seafood is dried for days to remove a substantial amount of water resulting in the disadvantage of the finished product having less flavor, is tough, and has an unattractive texture.

Surume-ika (also known as atarime)

Namaboshi (also referred to as Wakaboshi) (lightly salted and semi-dried) and Ichiyaboshi (salted and dried overnight)
Since a very small amount of water has been removed, this type of dried fish has a poor shelf-life and requires refrigeration. Well-dried fish is referred to as superior dried fish.

This drying method is used for fish such as shishamo smelts (Spirinchus lanceolatus), saffron cods and flounders.

Maruboshi (whole dried fish)
Whole fish with innards left intact are dried by the namaboshi method.
Mezashi (several dried fish held together by a bamboo skewer or a piece of straw passed through their eyes)

Hirakiboshi (dried butterflied-fish)
Dried fish that has been cleaned and butterflied. Fish used for this method include saury (Cololabis saira), Japanese horse mackerel, mackerel, hokke (Okhostk Atka mackerel) and Japanese barracuda.

Seasoned dried fish
Fish that have been marinated in seasoning and dried. Dried fish produced by this method are called kusaya muroaji (Decapterus) and are marinated into a kind of fish sauce and then dried in the sun.

Fish marinated in mirin (type of sweet sake used in cooking) and dried. Mirinboshi which is made using small butterflied fish is also referred to as sakuraboshi.

Kanpuboshi (drying in a salt breeze)
Fish dried in a salt breeze. Saketoba (the skin-on salmon fillets, thinly sliced lengthwise, rinsed in sea water and dried in a salt breeze).

Salted Dried Fish
Fish salted and dried.

Yakiboshi (fish broiled over charcoal)
Fish that is broiled over charcoal to reduce water content.

Koriboshi (freeze dry)
Using a similar method when producing kanbutsu dry food, fish are repeatedly frozen a number of times until dry.

Niboshi (boiled and dried fish)
Fish that have been boiled and subsequently dried. Shirasuboshi, boiled and dried young anchovies.

- Anchovies are mainly used.

Main Examples of Dried Fish


- Anchovies are mainly used to make shirasuboshi, niboshi, mezashi and gomame (dried anchovies).

Karasumi (botargo)

- Botargo is cured mullet roe

Kazunoko (salt-cured herring roe)

- Herring roe
There is herring roe that is dried and not salted.

Dried Cod

Japanese horse mackerel

- Japanese horse mackerel are cleaned, butterflied, and dried, the smaller fish being dried whole.


- Mackarel are butterflied and dried. They are also cellophane-wrapped and dried using an artificial dehydrator.


- Saury are butterflied and dried, the smaller fish being dried whole.
Maruboshi made from young saury are specifically referred to as 'harigo.'

Thornhead (Sebastolobus macrochir (Gunther))

- In Japan, thornhead are referred to as kinki, kichiji, or menme. It is butterflied and dried.

Drying Method
In most cases, sun drying is the basic method to produce dried fish and in recent years rotating drying racks for hanging fish, to keep insects away, and to accelerate the drying process, have become available. In places such as processing plants where dried fish is mass produced, artificial dehydrators are used, and, with namaboshi, cool-temperature dehydrators are sometimes used to retain the water contents of the fish. The drying method whereby fish are wrapped in cellophane is especially referred to as bunkaboshi.

Common Method for Making Dried Fish
Butterfly the fish along either the belly or back, clean and rinse in water. Dry immediately, or dry, after soaking in brine overnight with the salt concentration being approximately equivalent to that of seawater, in a sunny, well-ventilated place for half a day.

Dried Fish in Foreign Countries
In the regions including Asia, Africa and Europe where there is a vibrant fishing industry, various types of dried fish are being produced.

Haam yu (salted fish) in Cantonese and xian yu (salted fish) in Mandarin Chinese

- It is made in some regions including Macau and Guangdong, China. Fish is sun dried subsequently to being salt cured, having a high salt content.


- Dried cod found in Portugal. Bacalhau is reprocessed to be used in various dishes including baked bacalhau au gratin. Similar dried cod is produced in Italy and Spain that are referred to as Baccalà and Bacalao, respectively.

- Dried mullet found in the Republic of Senegal. After soaking in brine for twenty-four hours, dry in the sun.

[Original Japanese]