Himomo vs. Niboshi vs. Yakiboshi: Japanese Dried Fish
Surrounded by the sea on all sides, Japan has developed various preservation methods applicable to seafood. Such marine products are mostly dried, and there are several drying methods for fish preservation in Japan.
Japanese dried fish has different names, such as Niboshi and Yakiboshi, depending on the preservation method, and in many cases, they are either used to make soup stock or eaten as they are or after grilled.
Himono vs. Niboshi vs. Yakiboshi
Niboshi and Yakiboshi are common types of dried fish in Japan, so here, let me explain how they differ. Further, I will talk about the meaning of Himono.
First and foremost, the literal meaning of 干物 is dried thing, and Himono is the generic name for dried seafood, including dried fish. So Niboshi and Yakiboshi are categories in Himono.
The word Niboshi (煮干し) may remind you of dried young sardines used to make dashi stock. But other small fish, such as scad, mackerel, or flying fish, can also be an ingredient of Niboshi.
As you can see in the picture, Niboshi refers to dried boiled small fish, as in its name, Ni (煮) and Boshi (干し) are the words for “boil” and “dry” in English.
Niboshi is primarily used to make soup stock. But in recent years in Japan, people have been increasingly consuming it as a snack to address the deficit of calcium intake.
Lastly, Yakiboshi (焼き干し) is dried grilled fish, as Yaki (焼き) here stands for grilling. Traditionally, the gutted fish is grilled over charcoal and dried under the sun or in the shade.
Fish prepared for Yakiboshi ranges from freshwater fish, such as sweetfish and Iwana mountain trout, to saltwater fish, such as sardines, flying fish, and goby.
As for how to eat Yakiboshi, the dried fish is typically grilled and served with alcoholic drinks.
As with Niboshi, Yakiboshi can also be the ingredient for dashi, and in Japan, the fish has become a popular ingredient for ramen broth, which includes Yakiago (焼きあご) using flying fish called Ago.