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.

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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

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Sea Urchi Gratin in its shell

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Another Sea Urchin Gratin in its shell.

UNI-PILAF
Sea Urchin Pilaf

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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

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(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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