A photo of Nishin nigiri sushi
Pacific herring (Nishin)

Pacific herring (Nishin)

【Nigiri sushi: Hikarimono
What is Nishin?
Nishin (Pacific herring) can be found in Northern Japan from Toyama and Ibaraki prefectures northward, the northern part of the Yellow Sea, in the Pacific Ocean from California northward and in the Arctic Ocean. The body grows to about 30 cm long.

What does Nishi (Pacific herring) nigiri sushi taste like?
This is a popular local topping in Hokkaido. It has gradually started gaining popularity outside of Hokkaido as well and you can find it in a wider variety of regions now. Notice the umami distinctly found in silver fish. It has a relatively refreshing taste for a shiny-skinned fish so it is easy to enjoy. As it loses its freshness rather quickly, it is often marinated in vinegar before preparing as sushi. It is a special treat when you find the raw version served fresh.

The umami of herring is mainly due to the high-fat content in the meat, but the concentration of free amino acids, especially histidine, increases in season. When purchasing herring, it is advisable to select herring with few scale-offs, with a distinctive luster to the skin, and with a belly that has not been cut. Blood in the eyes is not a good indicator of freshness, as the fish often bleeds internally during the catching process.

Also, herring has many small bones, so if you cut them into thick, large pieces as you normally do for nigiri sushi, the bones will become a concern. If you try to carefully remove the small bones, it is difficult because the meat is soft and easily collapses. Therefore, we sometimes cut it diagonally into thin slices and stack about three slices on top of each other to make one piece of nigiri sushi.

Also called California herring or Eastern herring or North pacific herring or Oriental herring or Herring.

【Related contents】
Herring roe (Kazunoko)

List of Silver-skinned fish (Hikarimono)

(Revision date: December 30, 2023)

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