Karasumi: Nagasaki’s Salted Dried Mullet Roe Chinmi

Do you know what Japanese foods are generally known 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 that are a type of Shiokara.

Then, the rest, what is Karasumi?

Karasumi (からすみ)

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

The roe in the sac is taken out from the fish, carefully washed with water, and then pickled in salt for 3 to 6 days.

After that, excess salt is removed by soaking the roe in freshwater for at least a whole day and night, and then the salted roe is dried under the sun.

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 Chinmi was named after its shape that looks like a Chinese ink stick.


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

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

Even now, the Karasumi specialty shop founded by the man, “Takanoya (高野屋)” still exists in the city of Nagasaki, carrying authentic, delicious Karasumi.

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

Production Areas

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

Popular Dishes using Karasumi

Karasumi Pasta

Some Itarian restaurants in Japan offer pasta dishes using Karasumi roe. Also, some people like making Karasumi pasta from scratch at home.

Karasumi Chazuke

Image: Rakuten Blog

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

(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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