Sakura Denbu 桜田麩 (Fish Floss)

  • 300 g / 10.5 oz fresh cod or other friable, low-fat white fish, filleted
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, 
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • red food coloring
  1. Cut the fish into pieces so that it fits comfortably in the pan. Bring up to a boil over medium-low heat, then turn down the heat to low.
  2. Scoop off the foam that rises to the top of the cooking liquid and discard. (This helps to keep the fish as white as possible when you flake it.) The fish is cooked when it flakes apart easily,.
  3. Drain the fish into a colander. You can keep the cooking liquid if you like to make soup.
  4. When the fish has cooled enough to handle, wrap it in several layers of kitchen towel and squeeze gently to take out a lot of the excess moisture.
  5. At this point, remove any brown bits of fish. Inspect the fish carefully and remove any bones.
  6. Moisten a kitchen towel with cold water, wring it out and fold it up; put it on the counter next to your stove.
  7. Put the pan back on the stove over medium-low heat. Add the sake, mirin, sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the fish and start to mix vigorously with chopsticks or a fork.A stick blender on low speed, will break up the flakes quickly.
  8. Add a little of a weak solution of artificial red food colouring to produce the cherry blossom pink (Sakura) which is the traditional colour of this product. Add the colour sparingly as an overshoot is not able to be corrected.
  9. Keep on stirring with chopsticks (using 3 or 4 held together makes it go somewhat faster) to flake the fish, as the moisture evaporates. You may also use the stick blender if you prefer.
  10. The fish will stick to the pan bottom if it gets too hot. In this case remove the pan from the heat and press the base onto the damp towel to cool it.
  11. After a few minutes, you’ll have a fluffy, silky mass of fish flakes. Taste it and add a bit more sugar or salt if as you feel.

The colouring

  • Traditionally the product has a very pale pink colour reminiscent of the cherry blossom of spring. It is quite difficult to identify a natural food colouring that doesn't impart an unwanted flavour to the fish floss. The use of an artificial food colouring is the most common colourant for this purpose.