Shiokara (塩辛) 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. 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"), it is quite strong and is considered something of an acquired taste even for the native Japanese palate. One method of enjoying it is to consume the serving at 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—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:
- ganzuke [ja] — from fiddler crab
- konowata [ja] — from sea cucumber
- mefun — from chum salmon
- uruka (shiokara) [ja] — from ayu
- shuto — from skipjack tuna (katsuo)