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David @ Tokyo

Perspective from Japan on whaling and whale meat, a spot of gourmet news, and monthly updates of whale meat stockpile statistics



Iwashi-yaki, the "sardine whale", DHA and EPA

Last night I dropped by a tiny local restaurant that has reasonably priced set meals. On the special menu was "iwashi-yaki".

Iwashi is a type of fish, which dictionaries seems to translate into either "sardine" or "anchovy". I had it once before, and having enjoyed on the previous opportunity, took up the chance once again.

650 yen - Tonsui (rice and miso soup also included)

As you can see from the picture, it's a small fish, apparently varying between 10 and 20 cms in length, and has long been a regular on Japanese menus. Lately however the prices are somewhat high and I've not seen it around so much.

It's also a really nice fish to eat as the bones are thin enough that you can just chew them down - and the fish itself tastes great. I prefer it to "samma" (saury).

Here's what was left of the fish once I was done:

Iwashi is said to be very nutritious, and packed with DHA and EPA.

The Japanese name for the Sei Whale, which the ICR includes in the lethal component of it's JARPN II research programme, is in fact "iwashi kujira", or "sardine whale". No need to guess where it got the name from.

JARPN II research is investigating (again for those literate in Japanese: here) fish consumption by this "sardine whale", the common minke and Bryde's whale, which all are apparently known to include types of iwashi amongst their prey species.

* * *

DHA hit the news headlines a few years ago when a British nutritionist, Michael Crawford, suggested that kids in Japan have higher levels of intelligence because they eat fish. I cannot confirm or deny higher intelligence, but it's probably true that they do eat more fish than I did back home as a kid.

DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) are omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids. Apparently our bodies don't produce these for us, and the best way to get an intake is through eating fish, which is not a typical part of the western diet, hence Crawford's comments.

The whale meat marketing company, Geishoku Labo, is also using the DHA & EPA health angle (for those literate in Japanese: here), as whale meat is also known to be rich in these healthy acids, yet low in those nastier saturated fatty acids that aren't so good for us.

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