Tag Archives: 貝

Shellfish species 12: Japanese Ivory Shell-Japanese Babylon Shell/Baigai

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Japanese Ivory Shell/Japanese Babylon Shell are known as Bai, Baigai, Isobai in Japanese.
They are just in season now as we see them over the counters from Spring to Summer.
They used to very common and found all over Japan, but unfortuantely too many have been caught or killed by pollution in recent years.
The biggest specimens are caught off Toyama fairly deep where they can attain 15cm length and weigh as much as 300g.

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The most popular way of eating them is to first boil them in water and soy sauce and serve them cold.

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But the Japanese apprecaite them very much raw as sashimi and

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sushi!

There must be a good reason for the Japanese to call them “Kai no Oosama/King of Shelfish”!

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Sea Urchin Species

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Aka Uni/Red Sea Urchin Roe

Sea urchins, or uni/海栗in Japanese, are popular in many countries, but maybe not as much as in Japan!
The situation sometimes is becoming ridiculous as time and again Chinese and North Korrean ships are caught poaching sea urchins in the Japan seas to export them later to Japan!

There are many kinds of sea urchins, some great, some barely acceptable, and many inedible.
I will keep this posting to the most popular ones in Japan.

EZO-BAFUN-UNI
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Ezobafun-uni, or Kaze, or Kanze are best appreciated in Spring.
Most are caught off Hokkaido.
As its name in Japanese says (Sea Chestnut), when fresh it has a firm texture and tastes like chestnuts.

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Its roe is a beautiful orange.
Beware of imported copies that don’t mely in your mouth!

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Beautiful as sushi nigiri or gunkan!

KITA-MURASAKI-UNI
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Appearing on the markets between early Summer and Atumn, domestic specimen come from Hokkaido (12,000 tonnes).

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Please note the different colour, more yellowish.
It is widely imported from Russia (6.200 tonnes), USA (2,600 tonnes), Chili (2,100 tonnes), Canada (800 tonnes) and Kora (300 tonnes).

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Great as sushi nigiri!
Good quality specimens should be firm, with a definite shape, and leave a yellow colour inside its box or on chopsticks!

CHILI-UNI
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Chili-Uni/Sea Urchin from Chili is considered as the best imported sea urchin in Japan and merits a special mention.

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Beautiful served as sushi gunkan!

AKA-UNI
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Aka-uni/Red sea Urchin, although of a lower grade, is considered a choice morsel.

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Aka uni roe, some of which will find its way in the following dishes!

SEA URCHIN DISHES

There are countless ways of cooking and using sea urchins!
The following are just suggestions.
Enjoy!

UNI-CHYAWANMUSHI
Uni Chyawan Mushi

UNI-COLD-PEPEROCINO
Cold Pepperocino Sea Urchin Spaghetti

UNI-GRATIN
Sea Urchi Gratin in its shell

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Another Sea Urchin Gratin in its shell.

UNI-PILAF
Sea Urchin Pilaf

UNI-RENKON
Uni-Renkon: Sea Urchin cooked inside slices of Lotus roots

UNI-SHUMAI
Sea Urchin Shou-mai

UNI-TOFU-AVOCADO-MILLEFEUILLE
Sea Urchi Tofu and Avocado Millefeuille

UNI-TOFU-SOUP
Sea Urchin and Tofu Soup

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Octopus Species

OCTOPUS-MIZUDAKO-SALAD
Mizudako Octopus Sashimi Salad

Octopuses are common on the markets along the Mediteranean Sea, especially Greece, italy and Spain.
Tey are also very common in Asia, especially Korea and Japan.

OCTOPUS-MADAGO-TSUKIJI
For people living in Tokyo, you will find plenty inside the Tsukiji Market.

OCTOPUS-NUMAZU-HARBOUR
As for people living in Shizuoka Prefecture, go and visit the Harbour in Numazu City!

There many kinds of octopus, some edible, some definitely not!
I will talk here about the main varieties found, sold and eaten in Japan!

MADAKO
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Madako or “True Octopus” will be sold from late Autumn till early Spring.
50,000 tonnes are caught in Japan while 100,000 tonnes are imported, 60% fromm Morocco, 20% from Mauritania and some more from South Africa.

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Boiled Madako from Japan

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Boiled Madako from South Africa

It is very often found boiled in the supermarkets and are appreciated in salads, chyawanmushi, takoyaki and so on.

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But lightly as sushi nigiri is probably the best!

MIZUDAKO
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Mizudako, also called Shiodako and Oodako is a large variety reaching up to 3 metres. It is caught in Autumn and Winter at depths bewteen 100and 1,000 metres in the Northern half of Japan.
It is usually sold frozen. It is then cut when half thawn for:

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Mizudako sashimi

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Mizudako Salad

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It is also very common boiled and pickled in rice vinegar.

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Its eggs are a rare morsel eaten as sushi on a gunkan!

IIDAKO
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Iidako, also known as Komochidako or Ishidako are caught south of Hokkaido Island. They are comparatively small and do not measure more than 20 cm. A lot are caugt along the Korean Peninsula and China at depths down to 20 metres. They tend to lay their a bit everywhere, even inside empty cans at the bottom of the sea!
Imports have been increasing of late.

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Iidago are much appreciated cooked whole with their eggs or

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whole again, boiled or raw, as sushi on nigiri!

CHIHIRODAKO
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Chihirodako is local Shizuoka variety found at Numazu Harbour.
It is appreciated boiled or in Tenpura

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Its tentacles, boiled, are popular as sushi nigiri!

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Shellfish species 11: Surf Clam/Ubagai

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“Ubagai” or more commonly called “Hokkigai” when served as sashimi or sushi have many names in English.
Member of the Trough Shells Groups, they are called Surf Clams, or more precisely, as pertains to the varieties eaten in Japan, either Japanese Surf Clams or Sakhalin Surf Clams as they are collected both along Japan and Sakhalin Islands shores

8,000 tonnes are caught in Japan every year. 94% of fresh/live Surf Clams are collected in Hokkaido, Aomori, Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures.
About 4,000 tonnes are imported frozen from Canada.
They are popular dried, in soups or cooked with vegeatbles and rice.

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Their “tongues” can be appreciated as sashimi, but are most popular lightly poached and cooled down.

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That is the way they are usually processed before being served as sushi nigiri, either straight, or with a few small incisions for better effect!

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Shellfish Species 10: Ark Shell/Akagai

AKAGAI-5
(Ark shell sashimi in its own shell)

Akagai or Ark Shell tends to frighten potential sheffish amateurs because of its other English name, “Bloody Shell”, not only because of its deep reddish-orange colour, but also because of the reddish water it gives off upon opening.

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Now, shellfish do not have blood in our mammal concept.
Bear in mind that many shellfish are used for dyeing cloth, and if if I’m not mistaken, ark shells fulfill both utilitarian and gastronomic needs.

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It does require some skill to open and present.

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The main “Tongue” and “Thread/Akahimo” are edible.

The best season is Autumn, although they are available all year round. They are pretty abondant along the Japan southern coastlines, but many of them are also imported from Korea and China amounting to 80% of the total domestic consumption.

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Ark shells are usually not served cooked.
Sashimi (see top picture) is very much apprecaited but sushi nigiri is definitely the most popular way to savour them!

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Shellfish Species 9: Round Clam-Hen Clam/Bakagai

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“Bakagai”, or Round clam/Hen Clam in English is found mainly in the Central part of Honshu Island.

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Actually, you have a good chance to discover it at low tide all over Japan.

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It is a versatile shellfish as it provides for two distinct morsels:

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The “Tongue” called “Aoyagi”. It is very popular in Japan for its colour and sweetness. It is both eaten as Sashimi and

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Sushi as nigiri.

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The second morsel, one of two muscle parts is called “Kobashira/Small pillar”.
Sushi chefs will keep them until they have enough to serve as sashimi or even better as suhi as gunkan!

Make sure to order either “Aoyagi” or “Kobashira” unless you want to start a long conversation by ordering “Bakagai”!

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Sashimi Plate at Tomii (’09/05/20)

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I suppose I need not introduce my favourite Japanese restaurant in Shizuoka City any more, as I just have stopped counting the articles I wrote about this place!

Anyway, Last night I went for a quick fix before resuming work.

Look at pic above showing what I was served as “o-sukuri/sashimi plate:
Front row:
-Uni/Sea Urchin, “Saimaki Kuruma Ebi/Shrimp variety, Aka Ika/Red Cuttle Fish, Ishidai/Seabream variety
Second row:
-Hon Maguro Akami/Blue Fin Tuna Lean Part, Kurodai/Black Seabream, Houbo/Bluefin Robin.
Note the Shiso/perilla flowers!

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Apart of the freshly grated wasabi, I was presented two kinds of soy sauces: normal soy sauce and the other a mixture of soy sauce and sweet pickled Japanese plum/Ume Shoyu. The later is great with white-fkesh fish!

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Before that I was served “Shunsai/Spring Vegetable”, a very tasty morsel for which vegans and vegetarians would swim across the Pacific Ocean!

TOMII
Shizuoka City, Aoi Ku, Tokiwa-cho, 1-2-7, Tomii Bldg, 1F
Tel.: 054-274-0666
Business hours: 17:00~22:00
Closed on Sundays
HOMEPAGE (Japanese)

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Shellfish Species 8: Pen Shell/Tairagi

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Pen Shells or Tairagi in Japanese are usually sold in winter but tend to still appear in Sping in Shizuoka.

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Also called Tairagai, it was very common not so long ago when the domestic catch amounted to 13,395 tonnes in 1976 to suddenly fall to a mere 134 tonnes in 1994!
It disappeared from the Tokyo Bay and is presently mainly caught in the Inner Japanese Sea between Shikoku and Honshu Islands.

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It has become expensive these days and when you realize there is not so much to eat for such a big shell, one can understand it is fast becoming a rare morsel.

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It is particularly delicious as sashimi or salt-grilled and is very similar to scallops, although distinctly different in shape.
Naturally it is most popular served as sushi nigiri!

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Shellfish Species 7: Clam/Hamaguri

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Clams come in many varieties in Japan.
They are either called Common Orient Clams or Hard Clams, whatever their mode of cooking.

HAMAGURI-JAPANESE

Japanese Clam Variety

In 1993, Japan produced 29,000 tonnes before suffering a steep decline down to only 1,500 tonnes in 2000.
Since then imported clams are 15 times the domestic production.
Main importers to Japan are:

HAMAGURI-CHINA

China (see variety above): 20,100 tonnes

HAMAGURI-NORTH-KOREA

North Korea (see variety above): 3,33 tonnes

A great part of both Chinese and North Korean varieties are imported young and “re-planted” on Japanese beaches to be sold as Japanese varieties!

80 percent of all clams are sold over the counter at supermarkets while 20 percent are proceesed by canneries.

Clams, like everywhere in the world, are cooked/prepared inmay ways in Japan:

HAMAGURI-NI

Ni-Hamaguri/simmered clams served in broth with vegetables, tofu and chopped thin leeks.

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Chirashizushi/”Decoration Sushi”, very popular in Japanese homes!

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But my favourite is Ni-Hamaguri Sushi!
The clam,s large variety only, are first slowly simmered into broth, then drained and cooled before being served brushed with a sweet “tare” sauce. Sublime!

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Shellfish Species 6: Turbo Shell/Sazae

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Japanese turbo shells with and without “spikes”

Turbo shells are common all over the world, but are not eaten everywhere. Called Sazae or Sadae in Japan, they are at their best in Winter and Spring.
About 10,000 tonnes are consumed every year.

SAZAE-KOREA

Korean turbo shells are also found in markets.

The Japanese consider that the best specimen should have a comparatively thin shell and well-pointed “head horn”.
They should not emit any noise when lightly shaken.
They should be avoided in hot weather as they tend to spoil quickly.

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They can enjoyed grilled with soy sauce.
As sushi,they can be served as nigiri either raw or cooked.
Large specimen’s livers are served raw as “gunkan”!

Note: I feel in a good mood today as I slowly manage to convince old Blogspot friends like Melinda and new ones like Rachael to modify their Comment Box! At last I can leave messages and compliments for these great sites! LOL

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Shellfish Species 5: Gaper/Mirugai

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We are just in season for Mirugai or Gaper Shellfish.
Known under many names including Mirugai, Mirukui, Mirukuigai, Mirukugai, Guidakku, Umitake or Atlantic Miru, it is a bit grotesque with its vent protruding endlessly.
In Japan it is collected mainly in the sea between Shikoku and Honshu islands.

MIRUKUI-2

It can be either dark brown or completely whitish beige.
When consumed as sushi or sashimi, the dark skin is taken off.
It is widely consumed in this country and more are imported from Canada, and Korea. There is practically no difference in taste or quality whatever its origin.

MIRUKUI-3

It is particularly popular with sushi lovers with a big appetite!

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Shellfish Species 4: Surf Clam/Torigai

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“Torigai” does not have a real name in English. They are approximately translated “large cockle”
They appear on the market in Spring and earlier in Shizuoka Prefecture. They are mainly found in Tokyo Bay, Ise bay and Seto Inner Sea. Some are imported from Korea, but catches can wildly vary, especially with the occurence of “red tides”. A lot are imported from Aichi Prefecture to Shizuoka.

TORIGAI-SHELL

They must be absolutely fresh to be consumed.
One easy way to check if they are still fresh is to slam them on the wooden board. They shouldimmediately retract, even if cut out. They are at their cheapest between March and May.

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(Pic taken at Sushiya No Ichi, Shizuoka City)

They can appreciated either as tsumami with a little grated wasabi and shoyu, or as nigiri.
Beware of torigai with a thin colour! They are not fresh!

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Shellfish Species 3: Oysters/Kaki

Oysters! One would be hard put to find a produce from the sea more internationally recognized as a gourmet’s choice! Moreover, it is the only shellfish you coul survive on if you get marrooned on a desert island! It is a complete food in irself if consumed raw.
For a long time (that is before coming to Japan), I had thought that my country, France, was the place to eat them. Well, I must admit it was a little pretentious from me, especially in the light that more than half of the oysters consumed back at home originated from Japan!

Now the Japanese has come with many ways of appreciating them:
-As in the picture above they would eat them as sashimi with a dash of wasabi and soy sauce.

-Or just a little lemon juice as in Euope, Americas or Oceania.

-Or in another japanese fashion, with ponzu and momijioroshi (succulent!)

-Or, and here Japanese and foreigners are simply crazy about them, as “kakifrai”, deep-fried oysters in batter and breadcrumbs with a nice tartare sauce!

-Or finally, and I would recommend the experience to all foreigners, as “kaki-gohan”, either with oysters steamed together with the rice, or cooked apart in light broth poured over a bowl of freshly steamed rice!

Of course, any good sushi restaurants will serve oysters as nigiri or gunkan!

In Japan, oysters come from various areas, mainly Hiroshima, Iwate and so on.
As for Shizuoka Prefecture, oysters mainly come from Hamanako inland sallted lake near Hamamatsu City.

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Shellfish Species 2: Scallops/Hotategai

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Hotategai, or Scallops, is another worldwide favourite and also a source of dispute caused by illegal poaching, international or domestic.
The season is summer and the shellfish is sometimes called Akitagai, as of Akita Prefecture.
They are caught off Hokkaido, Aomori, Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures.
The domestic production/catch is over 300.000 tonnes a year, while 400 tonnes are imported from China as whole Scallops and 700 tonnes as the muscle part only (“kaibashira”). Japanese scallops will be significantly larger than the Chinese.

Of course, they are much appreciated as sashimi, but also as sushi:
HOTATENIGIRI
(pic taken at Sushi Ko in Shizuoka City)

They are also much appreciated cooked/grilled in the shell with just a little shoyu and sake:
HOTAGE-GRILLED

Actually, a good-class sushi restaurants will serve the muscle part as sashimi or sushi, and will serve the rest of the shellfish cooked in light broth inside the shell later!

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Shellfish Species 1: Abalone/Awabi

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Kuro Awabi/”Black Abalone

With the weather definitely turning hotter, the first abalones or “awabi” start appearing on the markets.
The Japanese are great connoisseurs and amateurs of abalones, and they do have to import a lot to satisfy their demand!
There amany varieties of different quality avalaible inthe markets and restaurants.
Most are eaten raw, especially as sushi on nigiri!

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Kuro Awabi/”Black Abalone”

As for the main varieties, you can sample expensive Kuro Awabi or “Black Abalones”

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Another expensive variety is Ezo Awabi/”Ezo Abalone”

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Ezo Awabi as sushi.

Lesser varieties include:

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Madaka Awabi

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Madaka Awabi as sushi

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Megai Awabi

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Megai Awabi as sushi.

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Victoria Awabi imported from Australia.

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Victoria Awabi as sushi.

Do not forget that catching abalones in a ny place in Japan without a proper license is a severly punished poaching offense!

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