Ishiri Fish Sauce: What It Is & How It’s Made

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Ishiri fish sauce is a Japanese condiment made from fermented fish and salt. It’s a popular dipping sauce for sushi and other dishes. It’s made from Ma-ika squid and comes from the Noto Peninsula in the Ishikawa Prefecture.

Let’s look at what it is, how it’s made, and how it’s used. Plus, I’ll share some ishiri fish sauce recipes so you can try it for yourself.

What is ishiri

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Discovering the Intense Taste of Ishiri Fish Sauce

Ishiri is a traditional Japanese sauce that has been consumed for centuries in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan. It is a type of fish sauce that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine to accentuate the flavor of dishes. The sauce is prepared by pickling the intestines of fish or squid in salt and letting it ferment naturally. The original recipe uses only basic ingredients such as salt and fish, and it contains a high capacity of fermented fish or squid.

How is Ishiri Made?

The process of making Ishiri is a bit complex, but it is worth the effort. Here are the basic steps involved in making Ishiri:

  • Foraging for fish or squid in the sea or mountain
  • Cleaning and preparing the fish or squid intestines
  • Pickling the intestines in salt
  • Letting the mixture ferment naturally for several months

The Flavor of Ishiri

Ishiri has an intense taste that accentuates the flavor of any dish it is added to. It is commonly used in Japanese cuisine to add flavor to fatty dishes. The sauce has a unique flavor that is both salty and a bit sweet. The flavor of Ishiri is best described as a combination of umami and saltiness.

Availability of Ishiri

Ishiri is not commonly found outside of Japan, but it can be purchased online or at specialty Japanese markets. Some restaurants in Japan serve dishes that use Ishiri as a key ingredient for lunch or dinner. If you are interested in trying Ishiri, it is best to book a table at a restaurant that specializes in traditional Japanese cuisine.

Ishiri vs Other Sauces

Ishiri is often compared to other traditional Japanese sauces such as Shottsuru. While both sauces are made from fermented fish, Ishiri is more intense in flavor and contains a higher capacity of fermented fish or squid. Shottsuru, on the other hand, is milder in taste and is commonly used in northern Japan.

Ingredients and Nutritional Value of Ishiri

The basic ingredients of Ishiri are fish or squid intestines, salt, and water. The sauce is high in saturated fat and contains a malt allergen derived from the fermentation process. Ishiri is a good source of protein and has a high nutritional value.

How to Use Ishiri

Ishiri is a versatile sauce that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some ways to use Ishiri:

  • Add a few drops to soups or stews to add flavor
  • Use it as a marinade for meat or fish
  • Drizzle it over vegetables for a unique flavor
  • Use it as a dipping sauce for sushi or sashimi

Media Coverage of Ishiri

Ishiri has received media coverage in recent years due to its unique flavor and traditional preparation. The sauce has been featured in food magazines and on cooking shows. Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema even named Ishiri as one of the best sauces he consumed in 2019.

From Fish to Sauce: The Traditional Process of Making Ishiri

Ishiri is a traditional fish sauce that originated in the town of Nanao in Ishikawa prefecture, Japan. It is a staple ingredient in many Japanese dishes, especially in the Hokuriku region.

Basic Ingredients and Preparation

The best ishiri is made from a combination of fish and squid intestines, pickling salt, and water. The intestines are cleaned thoroughly and mixed with the salt before letting it ferment naturally. Here’s how it’s done:

  • The fish and squid intestines are washed and cleaned thoroughly to remove any impurities.
  • The cleaned intestines are then mixed with pickling salt in a ratio of 1:1.
  • The mixture is then placed in a container and left to ferment naturally for several months.
  • During the fermentation process, the mixture is stirred occasionally to ensure that it is evenly fermented.
  • After several months, the fermented mixture is strained to remove any solid particles, leaving behind the liquid ishiri.

Adding Ishiri to Your Dishes: A Flavorful Experience

Ishiri is a traditional Japanese fish sauce that contains fatty fish, such as squid, shell, and scallop, fermented with salt and malted rice. This sauce is a great addition to any dish as it adds a unique flavor and taste. Here are some ways to use ishiri in your recipes:

  • Add a few drops of ishiri to your broiled fish or meat slices to enhance their flavor.
  • Mix ishiri with green onions and use it as a dipping sauce for your tempura or grilled vegetables.
  • Use ishiri as a base for your marinades to add a rich umami taste to your meat or fish.
  • Add a small amount of ishiri to your stir-fry dishes to give them a unique Japanese flavor.

Details and Ingredients of Ishiri

Ishiri is a unique sauce that has a distinct taste and aroma. Here are some details and ingredients of ishiri:

  • Ishiri is derived from foraging and harvesting seafood from the sea around the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan.
  • The original recipe for ishiri dates back to the Edo period in Japan.
  • Ishiri contains saturated fatty acids, which are essential for our body.
  • The main ingredients of ishiri are fish, salt, and malted rice.
  • Ishiri is a traditional Japanese sauce that has gained media coverage in recent years due to its unique taste and flavor.

Buying Ishiri Online

If you’re interested in buying ishiri online, here are some tips to help you:

  • Look for online stores that specialize in Japanese food products.
  • Check the shipping details and costs before placing your order.
  • Read the reviews and ratings of the ishiri before buying it.
  • Fill out the recipient’s address and cart details carefully to avoid any mistakes.
  • If you have a malt allergy, make sure to check the ingredients of the ishiri before buying it.

What Makes Ishiri Fish Sauce Unique: The Ishiri vs Shottsuru Debate

When it comes to Japanese seafood sauces, two types stand out: ishiri and shottsuru. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some key differences that set them apart. Here’s what you need to know:

What is Shottsuru?

Shottsuru is a type of fish sauce that’s made by salting and fermenting squid or other seafood. It’s a traditional condiment in the Akita prefecture of Japan and is commonly used in dishes like gyoza and fried vegetables. Shottsuru has a rich, savory flavor that’s similar to ishiri, but it’s not as pungent.

The Ishiri vs Shottsuru Debate

So, which sauce is better? It really depends on your personal taste and the dish you’re creating. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Ishiri is more pungent and flavorful, making it a great choice for dishes that need a bold taste.
  • Shottsuru has a milder flavor that won’t overpower other ingredients, making it a good option for more delicate dishes.
  • Ishiri is the more popular sauce in the Ishikawa region, while shottsuru is the go-to sauce in Akita.
  • Recipes for both sauces can vary, so it’s important to use an authentic recipe to get the right taste and flavor.

Using Ishiri and Shottsuru in Cooking

Both ishiri and shottsuru can be used in a variety of dishes to add a unique flavor. Here are some ideas:

  • Use ishiri as a dipping sauce for grilled seafood or vegetables.
  • Add shottsuru to stir-fried vegetables for a salty kick.
  • Use ishiri instead of soy sauce in your favorite fried rice recipe.
  • Mix shottsuru with ginger and garlic for a delicious marinade for grilled meats.


So there you have it- everything you need to know about ishiri fish sauce. It’s a traditional Japanese sauce made with fermented fish and squid, and it’s delicious on just about anything. Plus, it has a lot of nutritional value. 

You can’t go wrong with ishiri fish sauce, so go ahead and give it a try.

Check out our new cookbook

Bitemybun's family recipes with complete meal planner and recipe guide.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.