What is Whitebait (Shirasu)?
Whitebait (Shirasu) is a generic name for juvenile fish without pigmentation, such as Pacific sand lance, Japanese eel, Japanese anchovy, Japanese sardine, round herring, Ayu, and Pacific herring. The most commonly seen Whitebait (Shirasu) in the market is the Japanese anchovy.
Japanese sardine spawns from winter to spring, round herring from April to June, and Japanese anchovy spawns all year round, but spawning peaks especially in spring and fall. Shirasu in spring are small but plump, and shirasu in fall are fatty, but each has its own unique flavor.
What does Whitebait (Shirasu) sushi taste like?
Only raw Shirasu can usually be eaten only on the same day it is caught. Because of the rapid loss of freshness, it is not always possible to eat it even if you go to the area when the weather is slow or the catch is poor. Generally, this food has been preserved by boiling (釜揚げ) or sun-drying (天日干し).
Whitebait has a high water content, so it is good manners to eat it quickly once it is made into a Gunkan maki. Its rich flavor and bitterness go well with the refreshing vinegared rice, and the condiments used are green onions and ginger. It was a local sushi restaurant that popularized raw shirasu sushi, which is eaten when it is in season. These days, it is also available at conveyor-belt sushi restaurants, but this one is quick-frozen.
On the other hand, Edomae sushi restaurants do not offer nigiri sushi, only serving it as Tsumami.
We hope this information will be helpful.
Revision date: April 21, 2023
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