Shiokara (塩辛) lit.'salty-spicy',[1] is a food in Japanese cuisine made from various marine animals that consists of small pieces of meat in a brown viscous paste of the animal's heavily salted, fermented viscera.[2]

Ika no shiokara

The raw viscera are mixed with about 10% salt, 30% malted rice, packed in a closed container, and fermented for up to a month. Shiokara is sold in glass or plastic containers.

The flavor is similar in saltiness and fishiness to that of European cured anchovies, but with a different texture. One of the best-known chinmi ("rare tastes"),[3] it is quite strong and is considered something of an acquired taste even for the native Japanese palate.

It was a valuable protein in post-war Japan because food was scarce and it did not require refrigeration. It continued to be eaten as a condiment for rice and in bars.[1]

One method of enjoying it is to consume the serving in one gulp and to follow it with a shot of straight whisky. Some bars in Japan specialize in shiokara.

Some types of shiokara

Ika no shiokara with chopsticks
  • Ika no shiokara—from cuttlefish "squid", the most common variety
  • Hotaruika no shiokara—from firefly squid
  • Katsuo no shiokara—from skipjack tuna
  • Kaki no shiokara—from oyster
  • Uni no shiokara—from sea urchin roe
  • Ami no shiokara—from Mysidacea, a krill-like crustacean

Some shiokara types have special names:

See also


  1. Audrey Anderson. "Ocean Shock: Warming waters send squid out of reach in land of sushi". Reuters. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  2. Swinnerton, Robbie (2015-02-17). "Surugaya Kahei: a little shiokara goes a long way". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
  3. "Squid profits squeezed as Japan's catch hits record lows". The Japan Times. 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2021-09-19.
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