Karasumi: Nagasaki’s Salted Dried Mullet Roe Chinmi

Do you know what Japanese foods are generally known in Japan as “Japan’s 3 Best Food Delicacies (日本三大珍味)”?

Actually, the 3 Japanese delicacies are “Uni (ウニ)”, “Konowata (このわた)”, and “Karasumi (からすみ)”, which are generally known to us Japanese as “Japan’s 3 Best Chinmi (food delicacies)“.

As you know, Uni is sea urchin roe known as a luxurious Sushi topping, while Konowata are salted fermented sea cucumber guts known as a type of Shiokara.

Then, the rest, what kind of Japanese food is Karasumi?

Karasumi (からすみ)

Karasumi dried salted fish roe
Karasumi is salted dried fish roe known as a chinmi or food delicacy in Japan. It is made of the ovary filled with eggs, typically from mullet or Japanese Spanish mackerel. 

The roe in the sac is taken out from fish, carefully washed with water, and then pickled in salt for 3 to 6 days. After that, the excess salts are removed by soaking the roe in fresh water for at least a whole day and night, and then the salted roe are dried under the sun.

The Origin of the Name “Karasumi (からすみ : 唐墨)”

As the word “Karasumi (唐墨)” literally means “Chinese ink” in Japanese, it is said that the Japanese delicacy was named after its shape that looks like a Chinese ink stick.

The History

Karasumi is said to have been introduced from China in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573 to 1603). The original Chinese-style one was made of Spanish mackerel roe.

However in 1675, a Japanese man, “Takano Yusuke (高野勇助)” invented the Japanese-style recipe using the roe from the mullets caught from the sea around Nagasaki Prefecture.

The Karasumi specialty shop founded by the man, “Takanoya (高野屋)” still exists even now in the city of Nagasaki, Nagasaki Prefecture.

Shop Information: Takanoya (高野屋)

Nagasaki Takanoya KarasumiImage : karasumi.jp

  • Address : 1-16 Tsukimachi, Nagasaki, Nagasaki Pref. (MAP)
  • Open : 9:00 am to 19:00 pm

The Production Area

  • Nagasaki’s Karasumi produced with mullet roe is most famous in Japan
  • Other than Nagasaki, in Japan there is one more region famous for Karasumi. That is Kagawa Prefecture whose Karasumi is made of the roe from Spanish mackerel or mackerel.

Popular Dishes with Karasumi

Karasumi Pasta

In Japan, some restaurants offer pasta dishes with Karasumi roe. Some Japanese home cooks also like making the Karasumi pasta at home.

Karasumi Chazuke

Image : Rakuten Blog

Ochazuke (Chazuke) is a common Japanese rice bowl dish consisting of steamed plain rice entirely soaked in hot Japanese green tea or soup. Karasumi is sometimes used as a main topping for Ochazuke.

(Reference Page : Wikipedia カラスミ)


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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