Last Updated on January 25, 2021 by Ed Joven
How Do You Make Shirako?
We’ll start with a warning: the Japanese eat some weird stuff! This article talks about Shirako. If you haven’t heard of it, you might have heard of Milt: they’re the same thing. Shirako is entirely natural and a popular delicacy in Japan and is also becoming popular across the world.
The prevalence of Japanese restaurants in the USA has helped people get to grips with this strange but actually quite wonderful foodstuff, so what is it, and why does it gross some people out? Prepare to enter the weird but amazing world of shirako and also to be astonished!
What is Shirako?
The title if the article is a bit misleading as it asks how you make shirako. In fact, you don’t. It is largely harvested from caught fish: shirako is actually fish sperm! Now if that makes you feel odd take a minute to think about what else we east. Caviar, for example, is fish eggs. We eat liver, an organ that has unusual properties, and kidneys. We even eat heart, so why not fish sperm? The thing that makes shirako the delicacy that it is, is that it actually tastes delicious!
What does shirako taste like? The best way to describe it as being like a fishy and salty taste but mild. Some people have described it as being similar to the taste of oyster, but not as strong. It’s a great accompaniment to fish dishes which are extremely popular in Japanese cooking and culture. It can also be cooked with many sauces for added flavor and is used in a wide range of traditional eastern dishes, and once you try it, we believe you will be impressed with it’s flavor and delicate taste.
What to Do with Shirako
The best way to prepare shirako is to keep it simple. It needs little done to be ready to eat. The Japanese tend to use it with a ponzu sauce, and that’s it! However, you probably want to try something a bit more inventive. In certain parts of Italy it is used on pasta and is a great addition to a plain dish that needs a little flavor. It’s also eaten on bread as a paste, and sometimes as a dip for chips and fries. That’s how versatile it is, and there’s more to it than you might think.
It can be used as a topping for sushi, in which it is ideal, and also fried and eaten as a very tasty and unusual entrée for a main meal. However, in the USA it can be difficult to come by in other than the winter months when it is in season. It can also be expensive thanks to this problem, but as it is only ever used in small quantities this shouldn’t mean it is too highly priced. Shirako may be weird – it is harvested from dead fish by simply taking the genitals – but it is useful, interesting, and delicious with many different dishes.
It’s safe to say that shirako is not to everyone’s taste but lovers of seafood will certainly find it a new delight to add to their preferred ingredients. It can adorn any dish where fish is the desired flavor and will be a great talking point at dinner parties too! If you can’t find it under the name look for fish milt, as this may be more widely used in the USA and the western world.
Sometimes it pays to look past the seemingly off-putting origins of foods and simply take them for what they are, and shirako is worthy of trying.