Attention, Japanese Sake Lovers! 3 selected recipes using Shiga’s traditional food “Funazushi”

What is funazushi?

Funazushi, a traditional food of Kyoto’s “next door neighbor” Shiga, is a kind of “narezushi” referred to the origin of sushi.

It is a preserved food believed to be originated in Southeast Asia, and actually it refers to pickled fish in salt, fermented with rice.

When hearing the word ‘sushi’, we usually think of “nigirizushi” or raw fish on top of vinegared rice.

However, this sushi is totally different from it. Funazushi features its cheese-like smell, and it perfectly goes well with alcoholic drinks, especially Japanese sake.

Dry taste is the recommendation. Due to its strong fermented smell, some people rather dislike it. Those who like fermented food with strong smell such as blue cheese might get into it.


Its history goes back amazingly to the Nara Period (710 – 794 CE). Approximately 1400 to 1500 years back from now, it was introduced to Japan, tracing the same route as the rice-paddy cultivation reaching here.

It used to be made at many homes, and in “Shiga prefecture” it is still prepared for happy occasions such as new year’s day as an essential soul food for locals.

Funazushi making process

Usually female nigorobuna, a large size funa or crucian carp found in Lake Biwa, is used. After taking out visceral organs except ovaries and stuffing the body with salt, it is pickled under the stone weight for around three months.

Take out the fish, wash it well, and then, again, staff it with salty rice, and pickle it for another couple of months to two years before eating. It is a cuisine which requires very much time and care.

3 Very easy recipes using funazushi

The way of eating funazushi varies, depending on the family. Here I introduce three simple and easy recipes.

①Wasabi chazuke with funazushi

〈ingredients(one serving)〉
A few slices of funazushi/rice/wasabi/green tea
*it is nice with the topping of green onions, radish sprouts, or shredded kombu.♪
1.Put rice in the rice bowl.
2.Make a topping of funazishi and wasabi as well as green onions, etc. as you like, on top of rice.
3.Pour green tea over it. (it is also nice to add a bit of soy sauce at last.)

②Funazushi Toast

〈ingredients (One serving)〉
1 to 2 table spoons of rice portion of funazushi /1 to 2 table spoons of mayonnaise / cheese / pepper
*it is nice to mix with wasabi or soy sauce as you like.◎
1.Mix rice portion of funazushi and mayonnaise to make sauce.
2.Spread this sauce on the bread.
3.Sprinkle pepper over it and place some cheese.
4.Toast it till it becomes light brown. That’s it!

③Funazushi yogurt

〈ingredients (one serving)〉
Plain yogurt/ a little portion of funazushi rice / honey/ brown sugar (granulated sugar or soft brown sugar is also OK.)
1.Put funazushi rice, honey, and brown sugar on yogurt.
2.Just mix it.
*it is nice to mix with ice cream or gelato instead of yogurt. It would have a smell like rare cheese cake.

Although a variety of arranged recipes I mentioned here, the best is to just eat it as it is with Japanese sake.

Since it is made with fermented rice, there is no reason not to go well with sake which is also made from rice. Please be careful not to drink too much as it goes so well with it. (Lol)

You can find it easily within Shiga as a regular souvenir of the prefecture. In some cases, shops outside the prefecture might have it if they deal with souvenirs of Shiga.

Since it lasts for a long time, it makes a perfect souvenir. It might have a high beauty effect since it is a fermented food. Please give it a try.

*The information herein is as of January 2020.