How To

How to Ikejime Fish

Ikejime is a method of fish butchery. The name comes from the Japanese word “ike”, which means “alive”, and “jime”, which means “to cut off”. As such, ikejime is a method of killing fish quickly and humanely in order to preserve their quality.

In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps of ikejime so that you can try it for yourself!

What You’ll Need

In order to ikejime a fish, you’ll need the following items:

  • A sharp knife
  • Gloves (optional)
  • Cutting board (or something similar)
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Hammer or meat tenderizer (optional)

Ikejime Technique

  1. Fill a bowl with ice water and set it aside. This will be used to kill the fish once it has been bled out.
  2. Place the fish on a cutting board, belly side up.
  3. Using your knife, make a small incision just behind the gills on each side of the fish’s head.
  4. Insert your finger into each incision and pull the gills away from the head until they tear free. dispose of the gills properly.
  5. Reach into the body cavity of the fish and find the urodictyon (the long, white string that runs along the backbone). Gently pull on this until it comes free from the fish’s body. discard the urodictyon.
  6. With your knife, make a shallow cut along each side of the fish’s backbone, being careful not to slice into any organs or muscle tissue. You should now be able to see the spinal cord running along the length of the fish’s backbone.
  7. Using your fingers or a pair of pliers, grip hold of the spinal cord and gently pull it out of the fish’s body in one smooth motion. If done correctly, this will sever all major blood vessels leading to and from the brain, effectively killing the fish instantly. If you are having trouble removing the spinal cord, you can use a hammer or meat tenderizer to help loosen it before trying again.
  8. Now that the fish is bled out, you can place it in the bowl of ice water in order to begin chilling it down as quickly as possible. Once chilled, remove from water and proceed with your recipe as usual!


And there you have it! With these simple steps, you can humanely kill a fish and preserve its quality using the ancient Japanese technique known as ikejime! Give it a try next time you’re out fishing!

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