Dried Sardine: Chirimen Jako vs. Shirasu vs. Iriko

Iwashi (イワシ/鰯), referred to as “sardine” in English, is one of the most commonly used fishes in Japanese cuisine or Japanese food culture.

Especially the dried young sardine called Chirimen Jako (ちりめんじゃこ) or Shirasu (シラス) can often be seen in Furikake products, typically eaten with rice in Japan.

Not only that kind, but we often use the small dried sardine Iriko (いりこ), also known as Niboshi (煮干し), to make Dashi soup stock, as well as the seaweed Kombu or kelp.

Chirimen Jako vs. Shirasu vs. Iriko fish

Chirimen Jako (simply, Chirimen), Shirasu, and Iriko are all small boiled, dried fish made typically of the sardine species called Katakuchi Iwashi (カタクチイワシ).

But what is the difference between them?

Chirimen Jako (ちりめんじゃこ)

Chirimen Fish

First, in general, Chirimen Jako refers to the young sardine with a size of less than 3 cm boiled in salt water and thoroughly dried under the sun.

Shirasu (シラス)

Kamaage Shirasu

Next, Shirasu is originally the Japanese word for whitebait, and it is the generic name for immature white fish.

However, typically using young sardines, Shirasu generally refers to the same stuff as Chirimen Jako, though Shirasu comes in two types and usually has a more tender texture than Chirimen.

  • Kamaage Shirasu (釜揚げしらす): The moist one boiled in salt water but undried.
  • Shirasu-Boshi (しらす干し): The soft-dry one boiled in salt water and then half-dried in the sun.

Iriko (いりこ)

Iriko Dried Small Sardine

Last, Iriko generally refers to the Katakuchi Iwashi with a size of more than 4 cm boiled in salt water and dried in the sun.

Incidentally, the dried sardine with a size of 3 to 4 cm is called Kaeri (かえり).

(Reference Pages: Wikipedia ちりめんじゃこ, 煮干し )


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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