Kusaya – the worst stench ever ...

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Kusaya – the worst stench ever ...

by: Tetsuo Nakahara | .
Stripes Okinawa | .
published: February 15, 2016

“It smells like poop.” That was my impression when I tried “kusaya” for the first time. It has the worst aroma of any Japanese food, even though it looks like normal dried fish. In fact, the word “kusaya” actually means “stinky.”

The stench is caused by fermenting with too little salt to fully preserve the fish. It is said that the practice probably started due to the high cost of salt in ancient times. Now it’s a delicacy.

Mackerel or other small fish are washed many times in clear water. Then they are soaked eight to 20 hours in a fishy brine called “Kusaya-jiru” (literally, “stinky soup”) that may have been brewing for generations.

Some of these brine mixtures are over 100 years old. The fish is then dried in the sun for about two days and put up in jars.

Actually, the flavor is mild. Kusaya is often eaten while drinking sake or other alcohol beverages.

People usually have a love-hate relationship with kusaya. Honestly, I am not a big fan of kusaya because of the smell. But some of my friends just love it.

I am sure that kusaya is something that the Japanese would love to dare foreign people to eat. Eating kusaya will be something you can talk to your friends back home.

Reputed Benefits: Kusaya contains much more protein and calcium compared to normal dried fish according to research by Tokyo Metropolitan Institute. In general, it is said that kusaya helps to recover fatigue and helps to slow aging.