Hotaru-ika: A Glittery Omen of Spring

There are several ingredients announcing the forthcoming spring, but the firefly squid, which is fished only from March to May each year, offers a quintessential taste of the new season’s bounties

  • Hotaru-ika: A Glittery Omen of Spring
  • Hotaru-ika: A Glittery Omen of Spring
  • Hotaru-ika: A Glittery Omen of Spring
  • Hotaru-ika: A Glittery Omen of Spring

Hotaru-ika, or firefly squid, is caught with anoff-shore fixed net before dawn. At that hour, thefirefly squid emits a blue luminescence which turns the Sea of Japan into a spectacular light show in the blink of an eye.
While spending the majority of their lives in deeper waters, the firefly squid  females females rise to the surfaceand gather near the coast from March to May, to laytheir eggs. Toyama Bay and the city of Namerikawaare especially famous for hotaru-ika fishing. Although the developments and improvements in freezing techniques have made firefly squid available throughout the year, fresh hotaru-ika sashimi can only be savoured in spring.
Fishermen use a special net for firefly squid, called fukubeami, which differ from the ones used for other species. The nets, generally made of straw, are cast out in the bay to capture the squid as they make their way towards the shore to spawn.When the squid come in contact with the nets, the stimulation causes them to emit light, creating a mysterious glow that spreads over the surface of the sea.
Here are a few restaurants in Tokyo where you can have fresh firefly squid.
Nihonbashi Toyamakan
This shop, which was created as an information centre for the city and prefecture of Toyama, receives a number of fresh local products from Toyama every day.
Gotanda: Omatsuri Honpo
Also known for its selection of Japanese sake, this shop focusses on fresh fish, which changes seasonally. In the hotaru-ikaseason, you can enjoy firefly squid sashimi and shabu-shabuhotpot.
Yanaka: Gyokai ZanmaiAkira
The restaurant stands right next to the fishmonger’s. It is no wonder that here you can find only the best the season has to offer. It is also a pleasure to spend some alone time in the comforting ambience of traditional downtown Tokyo.A springtime special is hotaru-ikagrilled in hot pebbles.
Located at a 7-minute walk from Sangenjaya Station, it is a shop with only eight counter seats, specialised in soups and sake. Try the boiled firefly squid mixed with white rice and hamaguriclams aplenty.
Shinsen: Sanchoku-ya Taka
It is an extremely popular restaurant, known for its perfect reservation system and for the freshness of its ingredients, fished every morning. Here, the meals are omakase, that is every course is chosen by the chef, who also pairs it with the most suited type of sake. Seasonal recommendations include of course hotaru-ika, served either raw in a sashimi fashion or steamed.

Author : Slower Journal


Hotaru-ika  | Firefly Squid  | Toyama  | Tokyo  |

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