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How to Ikejime Your Catch: The Art of Killing Fish

Anyone can kill a fish, but many other anglers worldwide prefer to do it humanely. Learning how to ikejime shows respect for your catch. It also allows for an extraordinary taste by maintaining high meat quality.  

ike jime
Humanely killing any fish you catch lets you show great respect for them. Source: Meng Syn

What Is Ike Jime Technique

Ikejime or Ike Jime, is pronounced as “ay-kee jime or ee-ke jime” or shinkei jime, is a Japanese method of preparing the fish by paralyzing and draining them of blood to avoid rotting. The correct technique should preserve or enhance the flavor and texture of the fish when aged. 

Ike Jime Tool

  • Ike Spike – this is the standard ikejime tool unique to the technique, but performing Ike Jime with a knife works good, too
  • Wire – the right length of wire will be perfect for severing the spinal cord
  • Salted Ice water – you want to preserve the fish in temperatures between 0-4 degrees Celsius.

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How to Ike Jime Fish

The right way to kill a fish

1. Crush the Brain

You should first locate the eye of the fish, and above it, is usually its brain. You want to use a spike to break through its skull and crush the brain. Notice the fish shudders and drops its jaw open. Closing the fish or destroying its brain should be swift to avoid having the brain send stress signals to its body, making this fish feel pain. This procedure ensures the killing is as painless as possible. 

2. Cut the Gills and Tail 

Like gutting the fish, you want to cut the fish’s bone and artery by the gills to start the bleeding process.

3. Sever the Spinal Cord

You want to prevent the fish from sending more stress signals to its body by destroying its nervous system. This is done by putting a sharp wire into the spinal cord and running its tip along the upper side. Notice the fish trembling as you go along the spine before it stops, completing the process.

4. Bleed the Fish

The blood is a home for bacterial growth, causing fishiness and bad flavors of the fish. This makes bleeding the most crucial part of the process, according to many world-renowned chefs. To do so, you want to leave the fish in ice water or the water it was raised in. You want to have the fish head facing down to ensure a swift and quick process, so none of the blood reaches the muscles. 

Ike Jime Tuna

Chefs all over Japan prepares tuna for sushi with the Ike Jime technique. This ensures a quality tasting fish meat to serve to the people. High-end restaurants all over the world buy fish from sellers who spend the time using this technique to ensure the highest quality of meat possible to serve their clients.

Ike Jime Trout

When most people think of ikejime, they think of tuna or other saltwater fish. However, you can do the method on freshwater fish like rainbow trout

Insider Advice

Any fish we catch is a fish that deserves our respect and care, especially at its final hour. Preparing the fish with Ike Jime does preserve its taste and quality and our ability to remain compassionate and humane to all living things. It’s easy to do and will give us high-quality food. 

The Anglers Behind This Article:

Sushmita Lo

Jon Stenstrom

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