Shirako: A Japanese Delicacy Made from Fish Sperm

It seems like people in Japan eat everything. Raw fish and raw egg, for instance. While many parts of the world don’t eat strange foods, Japanese likes to cook and eat something people from other countries rarely eaten. Need a concrete example?

Shirako is the perfect sample of real Japanese delicacy, which people around the world might find it strange. Shirako means milt, or the sperm sacs of male fish. Male fish usually spray the seminal fluid onto roe (fish eggs).

In Japan, people collect the milt of cod fish, anglerfish, and pufferfish. It’s then commonly served in Japan fish market and Japanese restaurants as Shirako. Many foreign tourists may thought that Shirako is animal’s brain, because the cream-coloured sacks is unassuming.

Shirako served in various ways. Here are several foods using Shirako as the main ingredient:

  • Fried like tempura

The milt is deep-fried and covered in breadcrumbs. It’s crispy, but creamy inside.

  • Grilled

Grilled shirako gives you texture just like eating pudding.

  • On top of sushi

Shirako is considered as sticky, so it’s a perfect topping for a sushi.

  • Shirako ponzu

The milt is poached with a citrusy soy sauce (ponzu). This dish let you taste real experience by eating raw fish sperm.

  • Hotpot

It’s common to add Shirako when cooking hotpot (or “Nabe” in Japanese), especially when it’s winter season.

  • Chawanmushi

Chawan means a tea cup, and Mushi means steamed in Japanese. Thus, the dish generally serves egg custard steamed in a tea cup. Shirako could be another ingredient used in addition to the egg.

With so many Japanese dishes serve Shirako, you might be curious to taste it. Some say Shirako is has natural umami flavour, which is why it’s tasty and delicate. The custardy texture is similar to tofu.

In case you wonder, Shirako is quite expensive just like caviar. It possibly will be even more pricey if you buy it from Japanese restaurant outside Japan. However, you should try to taste something different than your daily meal, right? Having Shirako for your dinner can’t go wrong. Who knows, it could be the strangest food you eat in your entire life!

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