Food & Drink Magazine

Komochi Shishamo (Smelt Fish with Many Eggs)

By Bebeloveokazu @bebeloveokazu

Shishamo - 1a

Seriously, how could you NOT want to read more about a post entitled “Smelt Fish with Many Eggs”? It’s the perfect “come back” post after a long absence don’t you think? :)

[Ok, yes, I am indeed being a little sarcastic.]

I considered, the post title “Pregnant Smelt” since that’s almost the literal Japanese to English translation of “Komochi” which means, “fish bearing children”, but it just seemed cruel and unusual.

However, it is what it is.

Shishamo is the Japanese term for the salt water fish smelt, and it is almost always found at my favorite Japanese supermarket filled with roe, or tiny fish eggs. This fish is typically grilled or fried in it’s entirety, and can be eaten from head to tail.

I’m not sure exactly when I started eating shishamo, but it certainly was not a stranger at our family’s dinner table growing up. It just wasn’t until my early adulthood when my taste buds began to blossom, that I actually had the nerve to try it at the urging of my Mom. At first I was hesitant to consider eating an entire fish with it’s minuscule bones, but what got me hooked were the tiny fish eggs. Luckily, I have a soft spot for fish eggs. Is that weird (just possibly) or do I just have expensive tastes? My favorite sushi is ikura (salmon roe) sushi and I love ikura donburi, mentaiko onigiri and karashi mentaiko spaghetti. (Follow links for recipe posts.)

Komochi shishamo never disappoints. Ever time I’ve cooked these little fish, they’ve always been packed with tiny roe, and all I can say is that it makes me happy.

As you might have guessed, nobody else eats this at our house except for lil ol’ me, but for now, I’m content not to share with anyone, and savor each and every skinny little fish packed with tiny roe ALL TO. MYSELF. It’s truly awesomeness at it’s best. Perhaps one day Bebe will share my love of grilled skinny smelt fish with eggs, just as she shares my love of fermented soy beans.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I ate this komochi shishamo the traditional Japanese way by enjoying the head and tail. When I first started eating shishamo, I would always leave the head and tail for the birds, but not these days….

I know, it’s not for everyone. ;)

Print Komochi Shishamo (Smelt Fish with Many Eggs) Author: Judy | Bebe Love Okazu Recipe type: Appetizer, Main Cuisine: Japanese Cook time:  10 mins Total time:  10 mins Serves: 1   Ingredients
  • 8 fresh komochi shishamo (smelt with roe)
  • Soy sauce
  • Grated daikon (Japanese radish)
  • Cooking spray
  1. Rinse gently with water. Pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Spray canola oil on grill pan.
  3. Over medium high heat, gently grill fish on each side about 4 to 5 minutes until browned (or crisped) to preference. When turning the fish over, be very careful as the fish are delicate and can easily break apart.
  4. Grate Japanese radish (daikon) and serve this along with soy sauce with the shishamo.


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