Cuttlefish/Squid Species 3: Aori Ika/Bigfin Reef Squid


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Here we go with this series called “The Jacques Cousteau” upon suggestion by Jaded Fork and forBread + Butter, and Elin who don’t mind being on a long haul! LOL

Aori Ika or Bigfin Reef Squid is another extremely popular cuttle fish but in many othere countries.
In French languedoc and Roussillon they call them “piste” and eat them raw marinated in lemon juice, olive oil and spices on top of freshly toasted bread.

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America Aori Ika/Caribbean Reef Squid

Of course they come by various regional names in Japan: Mo Ika, Bashoo Ika, Kutsu Ika, Misu Ika, Shiroi Ika.
They are fairly large as they can attain 40~45 cm length for a weight up to 6 kg.

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Their season is from Summer to early Autumn (just in time for this article!). They are mainly caught in Central and South Japan along the Southern shores.
The catch has never been big (mainly by trawling nets), making them a choice morsel.
They are considered the best cuttlefish as far as sashimi is concerned.
The Japanese often catch them as a hobby to process and sell at local markets.

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As sushi, especially as nigiri, they are simply top-class!

Crab Species 1: Snow Crab/Zuwagani


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(Male Snow Crab)

Snow Crabs, or Zuwagani in Japanese are very popular not only in Japan, but also in Russia, Canada and many other countries.

In Japan, they are also known under the following names: Matsubagani, Echizengani and Yoshigani.
The females are also called Seikogani, Megani or Koubakogani.
They are caught mainly in Autumn and Winter.
Their number have decreased in the Japan seas down to a yearly catch of 5,000 tonnes while 60,000 tonnes are imported from Russia and Canada.

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(Female snow Crab)

Male and female snow crabs are equally succulent, but the males contain more flesh and are accordingly more expensive.

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The “thorns” of a male snow crab are bigger.

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The “teeth” of a male snow crab are triangular in a seesaw shape.
The female “teeth” are in a straight line.

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The underbelly of a female snow crabis flatish.

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When buying a female (10 tmes as cheap) snow crab, choose a specimen with as few eggs as possible. Above speciman just has too many!

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A female snow crab should contain plenty of succulent orange egg sacs (the eggs not yet “born”). Otherwise, there is very little reason to buy any!

Crabs can be eaten in many ways, even raw, but my favourites are on sushi!

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Male Snow crab leg Sushi Nigiri.

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Female snow crab Sushi Nigiri and its egg sacs!

Japanese Seasonal Fish: Sawara/Spanish Mackerel


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Sawara or Spanish Mackerel is considered as the best kind of Mackerel in Japan. Not only it is a big variety, but its comparatively white flesh is succulent in almost any kind of cooking!

It is known under different names such as Sagoshi and Sagochi when young and Yanagi when mature.
It is basically caught by trawling, but can be fished by line. It is, unlike other mackerels, a pretty solitary fish.

It is caught widely around Japan, off Russia, China and Korea.
The total catch has varied in recent years, but thanks to import, including 21.000 tonnes from China, it has become a feature in season from late Autumn to end of Spring.

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(Kan-Sawara at Uzu, Shizuoka City)

In Winter, it is called Kan Sawara/寒鰆 (寒stands for cold, 鰆 stands for Sawara/Spring Fish) and is a sought after morsel. In Shizuoka it is sometimes caught then in Sagara bay, and I can tell you it disappears quickly form the table.

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(Sawara at Uzu, Shizuoka City)

Later in Spring, it is just called Sawara and is leaner.

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It can be cooked in many ways: broiled as above.

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Or grilled.

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(Small pic, sorry!)

Of Course, as sushi nigiri! Especially Kan Sawara!

Sea Pineapple/Common Sea Squirt: Hoya/Mahoya


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The Common Sea Squirt, very often called Sea Cucumber is neither a coral, seaweed, shellfish or whatever.
It is an animal of its own class.

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in its natural habita, already a prey to many marine predators, it has become rare because of the extensive catch by humans.

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Its natural colour is whitish out of the water while (see pic above) Hoya rasied by humans are of a deep orange colour.

We are just in the middle of its season, May.
They are mainly raised in Miyagi Prefecture while natural ones are caught in Iwate Prefecture.

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You have to cut it open to reach its edible part.

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It can be eaten raw, slightly boiled or pickled.
It is said to be the rare sea animal combining the four tastes: sweetness, saltiness, sourness and acidity.

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For a better view of its insides. It is called sea squirt, because it is mainly filled with sea water which can be expelled at will.

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Ipersonally appreciate it as sushi nigiri, although it is a bit of an acquired taste!

Cuttlefish/Squid Species 2: Kensaki Ika


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Please check Shizuoka Gourmet Blog for all the gastronomy in Shizuoka Prefecture!

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I decided to dedicate this series called “The Jacques Cousteau” upon suggestion by Jaded Fork and forBread + Butter, and Elin who don’t mind being on a long haul! LOL

“Kensaki Ika/ケンサキ烏賊 goes by the Latin name of Loligo (Photololigo) edulis Hoyle,1885, but that complicated name does not prevent this particular squid to be extremely popular in Japan!

It is of course known under other local names: Ak Ika/Red Squid, especially in Shizuoka, Budo Ika/Grapes Squid, Shiro Ika, Gotou Ika.

They will soon appear in the markets in Summer.
They are mainly caught by line.
They are more and more available live, so great specimens can be easily bought.

They are a very versatile kind of squid as they can be appreciated as sashimi, sushi, simmered, boiled, broiled, dried, and especially as tempura!

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As for me, it is a bit of a dilemna as I like them both as sushi nigiri and sashimi!

Cuttlefish/Squid Species 1: Yari Ika


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Cuttlefish or squids are eaten almost all the world as they seem to inhabit the whole planet! They are the favourite food of many big fish such as tuna, whales and birds. Although humans contribute to dwindling stocks, they will never consume the same amount as its natural predators.

The Japanese call them Ika/烏賊, roughly meaning crow shellfish/cephalopods.

This is the start of a long series. I do hope you like them, otherwise you are in for a long haul!LOL

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Yari Ika/槍烏賊, or Spear Squid, are also known under the names of sasika, Sayaika, Shyakuhachi, Tsutsuika or Sayanaga.
In Japan they are mainly caught in Winter and Spring off the shores of Aomori, Hokkaido, Ibaragi, Mie, Aichi and Yamaguchi Prefectures.
Females are slightly more rounded thanthe males.
They are either caught with nets or lines.
Their flesh is comparatively thin, but soft and sweet. They are among the most popular in Japan.
The best specimens are the ones caught by line. Buy them live whenever possible.

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They can of course be cooked, or eaten as sashimi, but I reckon sushi nigiri is best.
The best sushi restaurants will serve two of them with two different dip soy sauces.

Beche de Mer/Sea Cucumber Species: Namako


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NAMAKO-RED
(Red Sea Cucumber)

Beche de Mer in French, Sea Cucumber in English, Sea Rat (海鼠) in Japanese, this marine creature has been called all kinds of names in many different countries over the ages.
French sailors were catching them and trading them with the Chinese as far back as the XVIIIth Century.
They are presently the most poached single creature inthe Jpaanese seas by illegal fishermen from China, Nort Korea and Russia.

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(Green Sea Cucumber)

NAMAKO-BLACK
(Black Sea Cucumber)

Quite a few varieties are found in Japanese markets, but the highest quality specimen are the red sea cucumbers.

The best season is Winter, although they are sold over the counter well beyond Spring in Japan.
They ave many names in Japanese: Namako, Manamako, Akako, Aoko, Kaiso and are caught almost all around the Japanese islands.
They lay eggs from late Spring to early Summer, hence their best taste in Winter when the Japanese find them almost sweet.
Choose red ones as they are softer and tastier. Choose specimens with firm flesh and healthy skin.

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(Namako Bachiko)

The Japanese eat them in many ways. Like the Chinese they eat them in their dried form, or “Bachiko”.

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They are popular boiled in green tea!

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Of course you will find them as sashimi!

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Or as sushi nigiri!

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Their innards, called “konowata”, are considered a delicacy!

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Most popular as gunkan sushi!

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