Shiokara (salted fish guts) (塩辛)

Shiokara is a preserved food made from flesh of seafood, salted mostly with the guts in order to prevent rot, fermented and matured with the aid of enzymes (an autolyzed enzyme and ones possessed by the internal microorganisms). For the purpose of facilitating fermentation, koji (malted rice) is sometimes added, besides enzymes included in the guts.


The oldest reference to shiokara is seen in "Konjaku Monogatari " (The Tale of Times Now Past), but it cannot be confirmed that it is the same as the shiokara which was eaten during and after the Edo period and the age of konjaku Monogatari was historically isolated from other ages, so it would be appropriate to determine that shiokara appeared in "Nippo jisho" (a Japanese-Portuguese dictionary) for the first time. Salted fish guts are shown in documents to have been also called "nashi-mono" for a long time since the 16th century, and the name "shiokara" became popular in the latter half of the mid Edo period. Local accents "shookara" (Tottori City) and "shokara" (Shima City) can be seen in documents.

The common recipe was to add salt weighing from about ten percent to the saturation level of the flesh and guts of fish and shellfish; however, reflecting heath concerns since the end of the 20th century, shiokara with less salt has been produced and sold as well.

Kind of Shiokara


Shiokara of Salted Squid

made by shredding the flesh of squid and dressing with the guts and salt. Octopuses can be made into shiokara in the same manner. Details will be described later.

Salted Octopus Spawn

Shiokara of takomanma (spawn of Paroctopus dofleini and Octopus conispadiceus). Mostly made in Shiranuka-cho, Hokkaido.

Salted Shrimp

Salted shripms are made by salting down middle-size shrimps such as Pandalus eous (a deep-water shrimp) while the shrimps keeping the original shape.

Shiokara of mysid shrimp: made by salting down mysid shrimps such as Actes japonicus, Neomysis intermedia and Euphausia pacifica while the shrimps keeping the original shape. Details will be described later.

Salted Crushed Crab

made by crushing and salting down the small-size crabs caught in mudflats such as Uca arcuata, Marcophthalmus japonicus and Cleistostoma dilatatum. They are made in the region on the Sea of Ariake.

Salted Bonito

shuto (salted and fermented bonito intestines) in Kochi Prefecture and others. However, shuto differs greatly from the salted bonito in flavor.

Hishiko (salted sardines)


Sukugarasu (salted young rabbitfish)

made by salting down alevins of rabbitfish called "suku" in Okinawa Prefecture. Generally, it is put on tofu (bean curd) when being eaten.

Uruka (or Ayu-Uruka)

guts and flesh of ayu (sweetfish, Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Salted Sea Bream

the bowel, spawns and shirako (spermary) of sea breams


kidney of salmon

shiokara of cod (salted pacific cod): made by salting down the spawn of Gadidae (a family of fish including cod, haddock, whiting and pollack) until it is fermented.

Konowata (salted guts of sea cucumber)

sea cucumber's guts

Shiokara of Hoya (lamp chimney)

whole lamp chimney


made by mixing the konowata and the shiokara of hoya.


Tuna, mackerel, Japanese icefish, oyster, turban shell, Sulsulus (a kind of shellfish), scallop mantle and so on

South Korea
Shiokara is called chokkaru or cho in the Republic of Korea and is essential seasoning in pickling kimchi. Of course, it is served as it is.

salted mysid shrimp: sometimes called seujo but usually referred to as chokkaru, and it is used in kimchi or pork dishes.

salted crab: it is called kejan.

salted sardine: it is called merucho.

salted damselfish: it is called charijo.

salted cardinalfish: it is used to pickle kimchi.

salted cutlassfish: it is used to pickle kimchi.

salted sea urchin: it is made of a sea urchin called kusaru in Jeju (an island of Korea).

Salted Squid

It is mostly made from a Japanese common flying squid.

Traditional salted squids can be roughly classified into the following three.

Shiro-Tsukuri (made in white)
Only the flesh of squid with salt is fermented. It looks like sashimi (fresh slices of raw fish), and is whitish.

Aka-Tsukuri (made in red)
The flesh and liver (guts: midgut gland) of squid are mixed with salt and fermented. When completed, it is reddish. It is the most common type of salted squid.

Kuro-Tsukuri (made in black)
The flesh, liver (guts: midgut gland) and ink of squid are mixed with salt and fermented. When completed, it is black. It is eaten in limited areas. It is produced mainly in Toyama Prefecture.

Fermentation takes longer progreesively toward lower layers of the ingredients. And the taste and flavor is further enriched progressively toward the lower layers of the ingredients.

Fermentation of salted squid is promoted by work of microorganisms, in addition, a vital role is played by the process in which digestive enzymes contained in guts (mainly midgut gland) cause autodigestion, resulting in production of amino acid. The concentration of salt is 8-12% in the case of the traditional recipe, and 4-8% in the case of today's mass-produced items.

Salted Mysid Shrimp

The salted mysid shrimp is produced and used as seasonong in many areas in East Asia such as the Sea of Ariake Coasts (Japan), People's Republic of China, Cheung Chan Island (Hong Kong), Macau and South Korea. Actes japonicus and its related species are used to produce this kind of Shiokara, but strictly speaking, they are a kind of shrimp, not of mysid shrimp. Neomysis intermedia (mysidopsis bahia, Crustacea) and Euphausia pacifica (Euphausiacea) are sometimes made into Shiokara, but their Shiokara is not as common as that of Actes japonicus.

Salted mysid shrimp in Hong Kong, called "hajon," is used for seasoning sautéed vegetables and soups. Salted mysid shrimp is put on boiled satoimo (taro) and eaten in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, China.

In South Korea, it is called seujo and used to facilitate fermentation and enhance the flavor of amino acid in pickling kimchi.

In the Philippines, it is called "bagoong" and used for seasoning food. In particular, it is said to be indispensable for seasoning karekare, a dish of oxtail and vegetables stewed in peanut sauce.

How to Eat

In many izakaya bars, salted mysid shrimp is served as sakana (appetizers taken with alcoholic drinks), eaten as it is or with grated daikon radish. In homes, it is eaten with boiled rice, sometimes with tea poured over it. It is sometimes added to one-pot dishes as a hidden flavor because the protein contained in it is broken down into amid acids and makes the dishes tastier. In Hokkaido, salted squid is sometimes eaten with boiled potatoes. Salted kimchi sells these days as well.

[Original Japanese]