Japan always offer something special to celebrate the change of the weather especially when it comes to the food. As spring is coming, you may see various pink-colored food packaging and plenty of sakura-flavored sweets and drinks. One of the most eye-catching spring foods for me is the delicate pink and light fish floss called sakura denbu (桜田麩) that is usually sold throughout every supermarket starting from late February.
Sakura denbu is a sweet, light, and fluffy pink flaked fish condiment, almost similar to the Japanese furikake (fish floss). What makes it special is the color of bright pink that resembles the cherry blossoms’ pink petal color. Sakura denbu is usually made using codfish as its main ingredient. It is used quite often in the springtime in making sushi rolls especially chirashizushi, rice balls, and as a sprinkle on top of your bento.
Sakura denbu is sold in almost every grocery store during the springtime. However if you want to make a fresh and preservative-free version, you can follow this easy recipe.
300 grams of fresh cod (or another low-fat white fish) filleted
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra for poaching the fish
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sake
1 tablespoon mirin
pink/red food coloring
Remove the skin and bones from the fish and boil until it is completely cooked.
Chop the fish into small pieces in a sieve sitting in a bowl of water. Shred it lightly with your hands. Change the water around 3-5 times.
Wrap the shredded fish with paper towels and squeeze out well.
Combine the shredded fish with the food coloring in a pan, and cook over low heat, and mix it together with other ingredients slowly. After the fish turns fluffy, turn off the heat and continue mixing until there is no remaining moisture. And you’re done!
While you are waiting for the sakura to bloom, or while you admire them in Japan, it is a good idea to make this sakura denbu and prepare your pink sprinkled sushi or bento for your hanami (flower-viewing)! Store your homemade sakura denbu in an airtight container and you can use it throughout the springtime.