It is one of the “Five Great Meals” in Japan (日本五大銘飯).
Sayori (さより) is a type of fish known as “Japanese Halfbeak” in English. In Gifu Prefecture though, sayori actually refers to saury fish. Meshi (めし) simply means rice, or meal in Japanese.
Read on for more interesting facts about sayori meshi:
The main ingredients of Sayori Meshi are:
Other ingredients are also used for seasoning and flavor such as green onions, ginger, mirin, and soy sauce. Sometimes, vegetables like carrots or mushrooms are also added.
Sayori meshi is a local dish found in various towns around south / southeast Gifu Prefecture — Kani City, Mitake Town, Minokamo City, and Ena City.
Sayori meshi was traditionally eaten by rice farmers and other families to express their gratitude for the season’s harvest. Salted or dried fish was used, as Gifu is not connected to the sea (making fresh fish hard to come by).
“Sayori” actually does not actually mean saury fish in Japanese. It refers to another fish known as Halfbeak. In Gifu though, the word is used for any long, slender looking fish (such as saury).
In 1939, Sayori meshi was selected in a nationwide government survey as one of Japan’s “Five Famous Meals” (日本五大銘飯).
The four other dishes selected were Uzume meshi from Shimane Prefecture, Kayaku meshi from Osaka Prefecture, Tadashichi meshi from Saitama Prefecture, and Fukagawa meshi from Koto Ward, Tokyo.
Despite being selected as a “famous” dish, it not well known in Japan, or even throughout Gifu Prefecture.
These days, less and less people are aware of this dish, and there is risk that it may soon disappear from Japanese culture entirely. Some local efforts have been made in Gifu to revive its popularity.
Here are a few recipes to make Sayori meshi. They are in Japanese, but I have posted a translated version of the Food Style Lab recipe below.
The hardest part of making sayori-meshi is cleaning, and deboning the fish. To save a lot of time, buy fish that is already prepped.
- Sayorimeshi by FoodStyleLab (Japanese)
- Sayori meshi by Tabechoku (Japanese)
- Sayori meshi by 桔梗庵 on Cookpad (Japanese)
Sayori Meshi (さより飯): Saury RiceCourse: MainCuisine: JapaneseDifficulty: Medium
Sayori meshi recipe and photos from Food Style Lab.
If you can buy sanma that is already salted and prepped, you will save a lot of time.
Equipment & Ingredients
Knife, cutting board
Rice … 2 cups
Pacific Saury (i.e. sanma) … 2 fish
Salt … generous amount (for prepping fish)
Ginger … 5g (finely sliced / shredded)
Roasted sesame seeds … 1 tablespoon
- Seasoning / Sauce
Sake … 1 tablespoon
Mirin … 1 tablespoon
Soy sauce … 1 tablespoon
Sesame oil … 1 teaspoon
- Wash the rice and let soak in water while you prepare the fish (approx. 30 min)
- Prepare the fish: Cut the saury in half, remove organs, clean thoroughly, and wipe dry
- Salt the fish thoroughly and let it sit for 20min
- Wash the fish off with water and wipe dry
- Drain the rice and put it in the rice cooker
- Add all of the “sauce ingredients” to the rice cooker, and fill with water until the 2-cup line
- Add shredded ginger and saury to the rice cooker, and press start
- When rice cooker if finished, take out fish and remove bones (very tedious step)
- Mix deboned fish, sesame seeds, and sesame oil with rice. Enjoy!
- Garnish with green onions or shisho leaves
- Mirin and sake help remove fishy odor, but be careful of sake with too much added salt
- Add some spice with shichimi togarashi, or wasabi for an extra kick!
- In 2022, a crowdfunding project was created by a Gifu high school and food manufacturer to help promote sayori meshi.
Here are some other Japanese foods similar to sayori meshi:
Other Rice / Donburi dishes:
Other foods from Gifu:
Have you tried sayori meshi before? What did you think?
Leave your thoughts and comments below!