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Squilla: Shako

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The Squilla or « Shako » is a delicacy that appears on the sushi bar counters from April to Summer, although different varieties can be found in Hokkaido markets (Otaru City in particular) almost all year round.
You will discover under names such as « shaku » and « Gazaebi ».
They are actually caught in almost all Japanese seas, but the best are supposed to originate from Hokkaido.

Like any crustaceans, they can be eaten in many ways.
The Japanese favour the small kind with a violet back. I have had to buy some very large specimen in Otaru, and just boiled to eat them with rice vinegar mixed a little Japanese mustard or in salad.
They almost disappeared from Tokyo Bay in the 1960’s but reappeared in the 1970’s. Most fishermen in the Kanto area will place them in boxes themselves to sell them directly at fish markets. The market value can vary wildly, but look for the genuine harbour markets and buy them yourself.

Naturally, they are most popular as nigiri sushi. Customers jokingly ask for « garage » (in English) as « shako » also means (different kanji, of course) « garage »!

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