Japan for the Uninvited

Japanese culture from a bemused foreign perspective

Kusaya (“Smells bad” fish)

KusayaKusaya, which literally translates as “smells bad”, is a type of preserved dried fish.

During the Edo period, when salt was much more scarce, the people of Japan’s remote Izu Islands would save salt by preserving the fish they caught in a salty soup (kusaya-eki). The fish would then be laid out to dry in the sun.

When bigger catches came in, the same solution would be used salt to preserve multiple batches of fish. Although odorous, the smelly fish it produced came to be highly valued, and the same batch of kusaya-eki can be used for centuries, increasing in flavour and odour over time.

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6 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Charles F. Sommers

    They have a very stinky fish in Sweden which is supposed to be one of the World’s worst smelling foods. I would really like to try Kusaya and the Swedish fish. I once ate a can of sardines that were spoiled, I was very hungry. The can was swollen and squirted when opened. They were very smelly but had a good taste and did not make me sick.

  2. Anonymous

    Thats just nasty, Charles.

  3. Anonymous

    Agreed, I can’t believe it took 2 years for anyone to mention that!

  4. Queer Face

    I met a girl at a party a while back, and took her home with me. She and I were both very drunk. That night, I can assure you, I ate something a lot stinkier than Kusaya.

  5. Anonymous

    I cant believe it took 6 years to find this off beat comment and say, “Queer Face, you never said if you got sick from it or not…”

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