Madai Ushiojiru (Red Sea Bream Fishbone Soup)

Madai Ushiojiru (Red Sea Bream Fishbone Soup)

I think that he most delicious part of the fish may be the bones!? The only drawback is that they tend to smell fishy. This way of making ushiojiru, a traditional fish soup, is what fishermen do; it eliminates as much of the fishiness and extracts the umami from the bones and head. Beside red sea bream (madai), you can use grunt (isaki), scorpion fish (kasago), flounder (hirame) for this recipe!

Ingredients: 4 to 5 servings

The bones and head from a red sea bream (madai)
from a 1 kg or so fish
1500 ml
Kombu for dashi stock or kombu dashi stock granules
as needed
Natural salt
about 1.5 teaspoons
Soy sauce (usukuchi soy sauce if you have it)
1 teaspoon
Garnishes such as green onion, mitsuba, daikon radish sprouts
to taste


1. Chop the bones and head, salt generously and leave for 15 to 30 minutes. Bring a pot of water to a boil in the meantime (1.5 to 2 liters). Use a pair of kitchen scissors to snip the bones at the joints, as well as the thin parts.
2. When the water comes to a boil, blanch the bones and head! The head takes 20 to 60 seconds, and the other parts take 10 to 20 seconds. After blanching, take the bones and head out and cool in cold water. Ice water is best, but tap water is fine! This is called "frosting" (shimofuri) the bones and head.
3. Wash the cooled bones and head under running water. Remove any slimy or bloody bits, scales etc. as you rinse. You can remove any bloody clumps on the bones with a toothpick, but you don't need to be too thorough! If you aren't eating the soup right away, drain off the water and store the fish parts to cook the next day.
4. Put 1500 ml of water and the blanched and cleaned bones and head from Step 3 plus the kombu in a pot and cook over high heat! The soup will get cloudy, but don't worry about it. Just before it comes to a boil, turn the heat down a bit. You shouldn't let it maintain a rolling boil, but a few bubbles are fine.
5. Maintain the heat so that the broth isn't bubbling vigorously, but isn't too low either. If bubble bursts occasionally, that's about right! Skim off any scum diligently. The soup will gradually become clear.
6. When the soup is clear and no more scum rises to the surface, add salt. Add 1 teaspoon of soy sauce to add fragrance, and the seasoning is done!
7. Add whatever garnishes you like! Besides the ones listed, I suggest myoga ginger for fragrance!
8. Top a bed of warm rice with sea bream sashimi, simmered kombu, sesame seeds and so on, and pour on some piping hot soup for an sublimely delicious sea bream and rice broth! It is the best appetizer with drinks.

Story Behind this Recipe

This is a standard recipe, but surprisingly few people know how to prepare it, so I uploaded the recipe. Almost everyone who took a sip exclaims, "Delicious!" I learned the basics from my father-in-law, who used to be a professional chef.