Sardines Simmered with Ume Plum

The dish with sardine and umeboshi is a classic Japanese recipe. Umeboshi helps to reduce fishy smell and cook the fish soft all the way to the bone.

Sardines Simmered with Ume Plum
Photographed by Takeshi Noguchi

Recipe by
Eiko Oba





Calorie count is per serving

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 6 sardines (600 g)
  • 3 umeboshi (pickled plums) (50 g)
  • 1 piece ginger (large)
  • [A]

    • 100 ml sake
    • 3 tbsp mirin
    • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 100 ml water



Cover a cutting board with newspaper or other disposable lining. Remove the sardines' scales by scraping them off with your knife, starting at the tails and moving toward the heads. Cut off the heads and frontmost fins as a single piece.


Cut open the undersides diagonally and use the tip of your knife to scrape out the innards. Wrap the heads and innards in newspaper (or other liner) and discard.


Place the sardines in water to wash them. Insert your finger into the opened undersides and thoroughly scrape out any remaining innards and blood. Rinse the sardines under water, then pat dry with a paper towel, making sure to thoroughly dry the insides. Cut each into two pieces half their length.


Remove the pits from the umeboshi (pickled plums) by hand, then gently crush the fruit. Reserve the pits.


Thoroughly wash the ginger, then peel it. Cut into long strips 5 mm wide. Reserve the skin.


Place the sardines in a pot with the ginger, ginger skin, umeboshi (pickled plum), and umeboshi pits.


Add the water and the ingredients for [A] and heat over medium heat. When it comes just to a simmer, cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 min, occasionally spooning the simmering liquid over top. Remove the ginger skin and umeboshi pits and serve.