Dried Sardine: Chirimen Jako vs Shirasu vs Iriko
“Iwashi (イワシ, 鰯)”, referred to as sardines in English, are 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 be often seen in Furikake products and is commonly eaten with rice in Japan.
Not only that but the dried small sardine called “Iriko (いりこ)”, also known as “Niboshi (煮干し)”, is used to make Dashi soup stock in Japanese kitchens as frequently 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 simmered 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)
In general, Chirimen Jako refers to the young sardine with a size of less than 3 cm that has been simmered in salt water and fully dried under the sun.
Shirasu and Chirimen Jako are basically the same things. Originally, Shirasu is the Japanese word for whitebait, so 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 simmered in salt water but not dried
- “Shirasu-Boshi (しらす干し)”: The dry one that has been simmered in salt water and dried in the sun.
Generally, Iriko refers to the dried small sardine with a size of more than 4 cm. Incidentally, the dried Katakuchi Iwashi sardine with a size of 3 to 4 cm is classified as “Kaeri (かえり)”.