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Nov 20, 2006 05:39 PM

Shiokara [Split from thread on California Board]

Shiokara is very simple to make. I find that every time I make a batch it doesn't last very long, as I find it very addictive! And definitely homemade is the way to go. Until I had my first chance to try a homemade shiokara I swore the stuff was as awful tasting as it's typical English translation sounds.

Invariably on menus, product labels, "weird foods" websites and on "Fear Factor" it's described as "fermented squid with the guts". I'll have to admit that it's an accurate name, but not very marketing-friendly nor indicative of the wonderful taste that one should expect. I'd rather think of it as prepared squid with it's liver. True it's a fermented product, but to some squid is scary enough to almost not consider having without ruining the deal by adding the "f" word.

And guts? Well I don't know what's what in squid anatomy, but my guess is that by looks and taste that most of the "guts" of the squid by volume comes from this one huge sac-like structure that I'm guessing is the liver. Surely that's what it tastes like to me, and liver is the predominant taste in the shiokara.

Here's how my Mom taught me to make it. It's very simple.

Just take a fresh whole squid, available locally at Mitsuwa or Nijiya, and carefully remove the head. Pull out the ?quill?, a plastic-like structure that runs the length of the squid. Also remove the beak where the legs come together.

Carefully without bursting it remove the aforementioned sac-like structure, which I assume is the liver. Now remove the skin-like outer membrane that covers the entire outside of the squid. This part can be a little tricky and time-consuming. I'll often do this under running water and use my fingernails to start a small tear in the membrane and then with my fingers try to peel a larger section off. I've heard that the trick is to start at the tip of the head end and peel down, but your mileage may vary! (The latter was advice from a sushi chef...)

Cut up the now skinned flesh into short noodle-like sections, including the tentacles. To this squeeze the contents of the removed sac, and to which I add sea salt, some shichimi/togarashi/or red pepper of your choice, and citrus zest. (Yuzu would be great if you can find it, but lemon works quite well...)

Mix it up and keep refrigerated in a sealed container. I find that it can be eaten immediately after throwing it together, (I taste the shiokara as I'm seasoning it...), but improves in taste after a stint in the refrigerator.


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  1. Thanks cgfan, I will let you now when i try it! How long before I should try it, i.e. how long should it ferment? I am assuming it keeps for a while?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Pablo

      I've never been able to see how long I could keep it, as it runs out pretty quick on me.

      I'd imagine it's all a matter of salting levels. I don't like to use much salt at all, especially when compared to the commercial preparations, in order to highlight the natural sweetness of the liver. I'd guess that a week to two weeks should be OK, and probably close to indefinite if one prepares theirs quite salty.

      But I'll be betting that for you too it won't be lasting that long!

      1. re: cgfan

        I use a lot of salt when I make mine and it definitely does not keep forever....usually less than a month. I know this because I forgot there was some in the fridge, found it, expected it to be edible but it had turned. What a waste!

    2. Thanks for posting this. Really helps me understand the dish. It had always been described to me as squid guts or intestines, but it was clear that there was squid in it as well.