Japanese Crustacean Species 3: Squilla/Shako

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The Squilla or “Shako” (蝦蛄in Japanese) 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 it 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 had the pportunity to buy some very large specimen in Otaru, and eat them just boiled andserved with rice vinegar mixed with 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”!

3 thoughts on “Japanese Crustacean Species 3: Squilla/Shako”

  1. Happy New Year’s greetings Robert-Gilles! I have to admit that it’s been difficult getting back online but when I was catching up on my feeds, this article immediately caught my eye (along with the lettuce-wrapped maki sushi in another post!).

    Anyway, canocchia shrimp are pretty much available all the time here but I have never attempted to work with them because they are a b*tch to handle! I watched a cooking program where it was necessary to cut off the sharp tips from the edges of the tail shell and well, I figured that it would be worth my euros to simply buy them already prepared. I love it when they are “cooked” somewhat in lemon juice and olive oil with a sprinkle of sea salt. Hmmmm….maybe I should just give in and make some for myself instead of being such a wuss!


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