How to make wealth with baby fish? Tazukuri is a dish in which tiny dried baby sardines are roasted in a skillet until crispy and fragrant (I mean fish fragrant), and flavored with sugar, shoyu and sake (rice wine). The direct translation of Tazukuri is to build nutritious and healthy soil. In the past baby sardines were used as a fertilizer in the rice paddies and vegetable fields. Eating these tiny fish at the beginning of New Year, therefore, implies to bring good harvest, which turns to a good money. How does Tazukuri taste? I cannot deny that it has a unique taste. It is pleasantly fishy, slightly bitter and mellow sweet. By the way these tiny fish are rich in calcium!
When you go to Japanese food store towards the end of the year you can find dried baby sardine for Tazukuri preparation. I got the one at Outside Market of Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo this year, so the quality is excellent.
Now the preparation; Dry roast the baby fishes (7 ounces) in a heated skillet over low heat until they are crisp and fish-fragrant. Prepare the sauce for the fish. In a small pot mix ¼ cup of water, ¼ cup of sake, 2 tablespoons shoyu and 2 tablespoons sugar. Place the pot over medium heat and dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook the sauce until it is reduced to half. At the end of cooking add 1 teaspoon of the sliced akatogarashi red chile pepper. Toss the roasted fish with the reduced sauce.
Every home has different recipe for Tazukuri. Some are cooked much sweeter – a sort of candied baby fish. My mother’s recipe, which is less sweet, tastes acceptably good with a little glass of sake (rice wine). By the way this year I added freshly ground black pepper powder.
Baby Fish Building Wealth.