Last 2 weeks, I have written about ingredients for Japanese stock – bonito flakes and kelp. This is the 3rd one in the series and today’s ingredient is 煮干し（にぼし/niboshi）, also called 炒り子（いりこ/iriko） . They are tiny sardines which are dried after being boiled in brine. The stock made with niboshi is usually used in miso soup. People often soak them overnight and bring it close to boil but better to get the fish out before the water actually boils. Niboshi can also be cooked and eaten with rice and/or as snacks.
As all niboshi, gomame and chirimen_jako are eaten whole including bones and all, they used to be an indispensable source of calcium in the traditional Japanese diet because they didn’t have milk and/or dairy products then. Even now, when people drink milk and eat dairy products, apparently many Japanese people have trouble absorbing calcium from dairy products, thus these small fish are still a valuable source of calcium for Japanese people.