How to make Iwashi Sardine Donburi Rice Bowl: Easy Japanese Recipes for Foreigners

iwashi sardine donburi rice bowl japanese cooking tare sauce

In an effort to make living in Japan easier (and cheaper), I’ve been learning some quick, cheap, and easy Japanese recipes. One of these is for frying Iwashi (large sardines) in a frying pan, smothering it in Tare sauce, and serving it over a bed of rice.

How to make Iwashi Sardine Donburi Rice Bowl:

1. Buy a packet of Iwashi sardine fish.

Most supermarkets carry iwashi fish – it is a sort of red and white meat, usually sold in sections of fish that have been cut in half. It’s also one of the cheapest meats in the supermarket (hence my love for it).

iwashi sardine donburi rice bowl aluminum foil frying pan japanese cooking

2. Start cooking rice.

I moved last week; my rice cooker is still in storage. We purchased a cheap black rice container you can stick in the microwave on high for ten minutes to cook an ample amount of rice. It’s very handy for situations like this, when a normal rice cooker would take 20 – 30 minutes to make a meal (you get what you pay for, though. Microwave rice rarely tastes as good as rice cooker rice).

Rice cooker Japan

Other options are heating up frozen rice or buying packets of premade rice.

3. Put a layer of sturdy aluminum foil inside the frying pan.

I was skeptical at first, mostly because this looks mad sketchy and unhealthy. Apparently it’s fine, though. Most of my Japanese friends cook this way; aluminum foil in the frying pan is the easiest way to prevent the fish from sticking or burning to the frying pan. It’s also a no-mess cleanup operation.

4. Gently place a couple pieces of iwashi sardine fish on top of the tin foil and turn the heat on.

iwashi sardine donburi rice bowl aluminum foil frying pan japanese cooking

When the fish is fresh, it will stick to the aluminum foil. Be careful not to stab the foil with chopsticks when cooking – you don’t want to break off tiny pieces of it.

Once the fish cooks, it is easy to flip.

5. Flip the fish every minute or so, to prevent burning.

As you can see from the picture, I had a little bit of problems with burning. Our IH heater is broken – it only has the one “high” setting. And, of course, cooking things on “high” all the time usually ends up burning them.

iwashi sardine donburi rice bowl aluminum foil frying pan japanese cooking

6. Spruce up your rice a little bit.

I usually put furikake (seaweed and dried Japanese condiments or fish) on top of my rice on enhance the flavor. It’s a personal preference; some people prefer without.

Japanese seaweed furikake

7. Arrange the iwashi fish neatly on top of the rice.

8. Dump a couple spoonful’s of tare sauce

(depending on how much you like this sweetened soy sauce based sauce or dislike the taste of fish).

I love tare. I put tare on everything, from sushi to cooked meats. My fiance usually complains that I smother our food in tare sauce too much but hey, I’m eating fish. To each their own. Go for whatever makes the food taste best.

iwashi sardine donburi rice bowl japanese cooking tare sauce

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About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

5 Comments on How to make Iwashi Sardine Donburi Rice Bowl: Easy Japanese Recipes for Foreigners

  1. Jason Parish // 16 April, 2015 at 2:37 pm //

    Grace, what is your preference when it comes to Brands of Tare

  2. Grace – eating cooked fish, how normal of you!

  3. Oishii desu ne

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