Sweet Fish Flakes

Updated February 23, 2016

Sakana no oboro is made from lean, white-fleshed fish cooked in water, drained, crumbled, and dry-toasted in a pan with sugar, mirin (sweet cooking wine), and a little salt. The result is a dry, sweet, flaked fish with a faint pink color because of the addition of some red food coloring. This is another of those recipes born out of necessity—what to do with accumulated leftover whitefish in the sushi kitchen, most of which consists of end pieces or odd parts of the fish that could not be served to the sushi diners. This delightful sweet delicacy solves the problem. Since, in our home kitchens, we seldom accumulate enough fish scraps to prepare these sweet fish flakes, here is the home version using a can of tuna, adapted from a recipe of my sister, Keiko Arakawa.

Makes1 cup or 3 ounces



Total Timeunder 15 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, low-fat, peanut free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Texturesalty, sweet, umami


  • One 6-ounce can tuna in water, chunktype, or 6 ounces accumulated cooked fish
  • 1 tablespoon shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 1 tablespoon mirin (sweet cooking wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sake (rice wine)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Red food coloring (optional)


Place the tuna meat in a cotton cloth bag made of fukin or muslin. Close the top of the bag tightly, secure with a rubber band, and put it under cold running tap water. Press the tuna in the bag several times until the water runs clear (this cleans the fish and removes excess fat and fishy flavor). Turn off the tap water and firmly press the fish in the cloth bag to remove excess water. Put the tuna in a bowl and add the soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar, stirring and mixing thoroughly with chopsticks. Transfer the tuna to a heated skillet (no oil is added) and cook over low heat, moving the fish around in the skillet, until all the moisture is cooked away and the fish becomes light and flaky, about 8 minutes. At the very end, add a small drop of red food coloring if you like and stir thoroughly. Transfer the sweet fish flakes to a bowl and let them cool. Store them in a sealable container in the refrigerator and use within two weeks or freeze.



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Dear @perrieb, Thanks for reaching out! Try using Hiroko's Sweet Fish Flakes in these recipes: All the best, Kara Rota Editorial Director

After you have your sweet fish flakes, how do you use them? Are they added to cooked sushi rolls? Are they incorporated into other dishes? Please advise.


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