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What are Shirasu and Chirimen Jako?
Baby sardines are called Shirasu (しらす). Rich in calcium and protein, shirasu are commonly enjoyed in Japan and eaten by themselves, used as a topping on Chilled Tofu (Hiyayakko), and Tamago Tofu, mix with rice or rice balls, cooked for Homemade Furikake, or simmer to preserve for later use.
Shirasu, or baby sardines, are called differently based on how they are processed:
- Raw baby sardines [slippery] – Nama Shirasu (生しらす)
- Boiled baby sardines [soft] – (Kamaage) Shirasu ((釜揚げ)しらす) *see below
- Boiled and lightly dried baby sardines [a bit hard] – Shirasuboshi (しらす干し)
- Boiled and completely dried baby sardines [hard] – Chirimenjako or Jako (ちりめんじゃこ・じゃこ) *see below
Here in the U.S., Japanese grocery stores sometimes carry Shirasuboshi and Chirimenjako at the refrigerated section. Nama Shirasu and Kamaage Shirasu must be so ores.
Kamaage Shirasu (釜揚げしらす)
When they are boiled in salted water and not dried, they are called (Kamaage) Shirasu ((釜揚げ)しらす). You don’t need to rinse these before using them. When they are too salty, you can quickly rinse or pour hot water.
Chirimenjako or Jako (ちりめんじゃこ・じゃこ)
Recipes Using Baby Sardines
Cold Tofu (Hiyayakko) with Chirimen Jako.
Egg Tofu On Rice with Kamaage Shirasu.
Baby Sardine Tsukudani with Chirimen Jako