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 fish in Japanese cuisine.

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 and is commonly eaten with rice in Japan.

Not only that but the dried small sardine “Iriko (いりこ)”, also known as “Niboshi (煮干し)”, is often used to make Dashi soup stock in Japanese kitchens, as well as the seaweed Kombu.

The Difference: Chirimen Jako vs Shirasu vs Iriko fish

Chirimen Jako (also simply called just 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

In general, Chirimen Jako refers to the young sardine with a size of less than 3 cm that has been boiled in saltwater and fully dried under the sun.

Shirasu (シラス)

Kamaage Shirasu

Shirasu and Chirimen Jako are basically the same things. Originally, Shirasu is the Japanese word for whitebait, so it’s the generic term for immature white fish. The young sardine Shirasu can broadly be classified into 2 types,

  • “Kamaage Shirasu (釜揚げしらす)”: The moist one that has been boiled in salt water but not dried.
  • “Shirasu-Boshi (しらす干し)”: The dry one that has been boiled in salt water and then dried in the sun.

Iriko (いりこ)

Iriko Dried Small Sardine

Generally, Iriko refers to the dried small sardine with a size of more than 4 cm. Incidentally, the dried Katakuchi Iwashi fish with a size of 3 to 4 cm is classified as “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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