Komochi Shishamo (Smelt Fish with Many Eggs)

Posted by on May 21, 2013 in Appetizers, Blog, Fish & Seafood, Japanese Cuisine Favorites | 5 comments

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. ;)

Komochi Shishamo (Smelt Fish with Many Eggs)
Recipe type: Appetizer, Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
  • 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.




  1. avatar

    Glad to see you’re back!
    Hope you’re enjoying the last of spring.

    I’ve never had this dish — sounds very exotic, but very yummy. I too would be the only one in my family to eat it! lol

  2. avatar

    Funny post!
    I’ve tried this as a child and never acquired a taste for it.
    Eating the whole thing was something I never cared for.
    I just hated the crispness of the head, tail and the bones.
    I don’t think I’ve had them with the roe in it, so not sure if I’d like it more with the roe.
    I’ll have to ask my mom. I’m not a fan of cooked fish, so I stay away from fish unless it’s on sushi.


  3. avatar


    Shishamo which you have taseted, is so-called ‘Karafuto-shisyamo’.

    In Hokkaido, we can find real shishamo in market, but it is expensive. Real shishamo is a little bit oily, having a strong taste. Very Very good for Japanese sake!

    Enjoy it, ig you have chance to go to Hokkaido.

  4. avatar

    Sounds delicious, I’m going to have to look for these in my local stores, but I don’t know of any Japanese specific does in my area.

  5. avatar

    I don’t mind the English translation of “komochi shishamo”; honestly, I think it’s time that Japanese cuisine recieve the same treatment that Chinese cuisine is getting when it comes to names and culinary terms. What is it with Japanese food, and why does it get away with its names untranslated? Tonkotsu ramen? Bah, that’s just hand-pulled noodles in pork bone broth.

    Now if you excuse me, I will finish my deep-fried shrimp in breadcrumbs with radish dip, followed by gōngbǎo jīdīng with real huājiāo oil.