Simmered Sardines with Pickled Plum (Ume-ni)

HEro shot of Simmered Sardines with Pickled Plum.

Simmered Sardines with Pickled Plum is the dish that lets you eat the entire body of the sardine including the bones. The umeboshi (pickled plum), sake, and ginger in the simmering sauce eliminates the strong fishy smell of the sardines. They also make the bones so tender that you can eat them.

Looking at all the images of sardine dishes on the internet, it seems that Simmered Sardines is a unique way of cooking sardines. Most sardine recipes are either grilled, fried, or roasted. And of course, some recipes use canned sardines.

Today’s recipe, Simmered Sardines with Pickled Plum, is a typical Japanese home-cooking recipe. The dish goes so well with rice, but I think that it can also be a great appetiser with Japanese sake or other drinks.

Sardines used to be extremely cheap in Sydney. About 40 years ago, sardines were $1-2 per kilo. Aussies perhaps used sardines only as fishing bait. Now, the price has gone up to over $10, although they are still cheaper than most fish. And they are good for you.

About Ume-ni

When you simmer fish, meat or vegetables in a broth/sauce with umeboshi (梅干し, pickled plum), the dish is called ‘ume-ni‘ (梅煮). It translates to ‘simmered with plum’, but in this case the plum means pickled plum, i.e. umeboshi.

Pickled plums in a pack as well as a pickled plum on a plate.

There are many different kinds of umeboshi, and I talked about them in my post Daikon Salad with Pickled Plum Dressing. In the case of ume-ni, you need to use large, brown, soft umeboshi, like the on in the above photo.

The sourness of umeboshi can vary and some soft umeboshi might even come with other seasonings such as bonito …continue reading