Dried sardines are often eaten in Kagawa prefecture. In fact, Takamatsu city’s annual dried sardine purchasing rate per capita is nearly double the average of the whole of Japan (Family Income and Expenditure Survey by Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications).
At any rate, the reason is that dried sardines are used to make Sanuki udon noodle soup.
Floating near the westernmost tip of Kagawa prefecture, Ibukijima Island supports the needs of all those sardine-eaters as a leading cultivation area for the fish.
During peak season, the air is filled with the delicious smell of boiling sardines.
Categorized according to their size, there are 5 kinds of dried sardines.
Starting from the largest, they are oba, chuba, koba, kaeri and chirimen.
Ibukijima Island residents skillfully use them for different things according to their size.
The best size for making soup stock is chuba. They are blended together with oba for optimum flavor.
They also eat Oba as is, or for example, remove the head and the bones, sprinkle on some soy sauce and eat them as a sake accompanying snack.
While Koba are used for some New Year’s delicacies (cooked in soy sauce and sugar until they are almost dry), kaeri and chirimen are eaten with ponzu or as ingredients for marinated dishes.
By the way, on Ibukijima Island, dried sardine flakes are used in place of bonito flakes for okonomiyaki.
I was surprised to learn that dried sardines can be used for more than just making soup stock!
When talking about this with someone from Shodo Island, the person gave me a tip:
“If you put some olive oil and salt on the sardines after you’ve used them for soup stock, you’ll have instant oil sardines.”
In line with its olive oil production, Shodo Island is the cradle of olive cultivation in Japan.
The people of Shodo Island are really good at using olive oil. They use it as a subtle seasoning for miso soup, splash it on tofu, and pour some in the soy sauce they use to dip sashimi in.
The island of dried sardines and the island of olive oil…
They are just the right combination.
Oil sardines from dried sardines, take my word and give it a try.
You can purchase Ibukijima Island dried sardines and Shodo Island olive oil online:
Ibuki sardines: http://www14.ocn.ne.jp/~ibuki/ (Japanese)
Shodo Island olive oil: http://www.kensanpin.org/olive/ (Japanese)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Konishi
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