7 Shellfish (貝類) Japanese MOST Love

Japan has many of its own shellfish.
I would like to ask you, who said oysters are only good in months with an R? That’s just in your country, right?

We have one of them, the best season is in midsummer.There are some shellfish in Japan that defy your common sense.

Today, I talk about shellfish in Japan.

Nimaigai (二枚貝)


“Nimaigai” means clams. “Nimai” is 2 pieces. “Kai” or “Gai” means shellfish and clam. 

These clams are called “Asari”. We often eat clams with soup, grilled or Sakamushi (Steam with Sake) at Izakaya or home. 
Clam chowder is sold by Knorr, but it is not very popular.

Hamaguri (はまぐり)


”Hamaguri” means orient clam. “Hama” means beach and “guri” “kuri” means malone. This named after this shape.
Usually Asari is 2-3 cm wide, but Hamaguri is 5-7 cm. This texture is as same as clams.

“Shijimi” means Corbicula. Shijimi contains so much zinc that we drink it as miso soup when we are tired. It is good to drink after drinking a lot of Sake to avoid a hangover.

Scallop. It is eaten with sushi, sashimi, or smoked fish as a snack for sake…some people eat into curry.

kamenote (亀の手)


“Kamenote” means turtle palms. But this is not real palms, of course😊 “Percebe” in Portugal, exclusive shellfish.

Kamenote recipe

Japanese eat them with miso soup or fry…I have not eaten them.

FYI: Cookpad

Makigai (巻貝)


“Makigai” means shellfish. there are many kinds of shellfish in Japan.  

We usually makigai with grilled with soy sauce, simmered or soaked into salty sauce with seaweeds.

This is “Sazae”, Turban shell. We eat them as Sushi, Sashimi or “Tsubo-yaki” (grilled it with Sake and soy sauce) 

There is an anime “Sazae-san”. This is a Japanese animation that has been around for over 50 years, which airs on Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m. 

So it reminds us to have to work for next week…horrible.
There is a term as “the Sazae-san Syndrome”.

Do you have such a program in your country?

whelk. It has a nice softness and chewy texture not a fishy so much, light savory and slightly bitter taste.

We often eat it simmered with say sauce.

FYI: Cookpad

Babylonia Japonica.  We eat Sushi, Sashimi, or steamed with Sake. It has a crunchy texture and sweet taste. Especially, it goes well with local Sake, kind a Junmai-shu.

This whelk also just simmered with soy sauce as same as Tsubugai.

We eat it with soy sauce grilled or Sashimi, not Sushi. Matsubu is the finest one and is called “A-tsubu” also.

Awabi (アワビ / あわび / 鮑)


“Awabi” is abalone.The small one is called “Tokobushi”, can get in supermarket. Black abalone is the best quality, approx. USD100 to 300 each. I have never seen black abalone in other countries. Raw eating is the best.

Awabi recipe

awabis ashimi

It has a wonderfully chewy texture and a unique crunchiness. The abalone, in summer is especially rich in glycogen and Umami.

We often eat them as Sashimi, sushi or just grill with soy sauce.

Kaki (かき / 牡蠣 / カキ)


“Kaki” means oyster.  Although I talked about summer-kaki at first, this “Iwagaki” is that ones.

“Iwagaki (岩ガキ)” means the rock oysters, the best season is March to July.

We eat them with ponzu oroshi shoyu and leeks. Lemons is just for decoration.

Iwagaki recipe(岩ガキ)


These oysters are much creamier and larger than the usual ones. They are eaten with sushi (not sashimi) or lightly cooked in Sake.

Magaki (まがき)

Overseas eats oysters are called “Magaki”,ordinary oysters in Japan. This season is winter.

Kaki recipe

kaki fry

We usually kaki with the hot pot or deep-fried like pork cutlet.

These are smaller than Iwagaki and not creamy so much.

Kaki nabe (牡蠣鍋)

Although they are called “Milk of the sea”, this milk refers low-fat milk for us, right?

So we eat them fried or pot “kaki-nabe”, not raw.

Mategai (マテ貝)

mate gai

“Mategai” means razor clam. We eat them boiled in salt or sauteed with butter and garlic. These are not so popular.

Mategai recipe

The ultimate sautéed mategai with texture and umami to match!

FYI: Cookpad 

For Sushi

miru gai

These shellfish are often seen in sushi restaurants.

Akagai (赤貝)


“Akagai” means ark shell. We eat them as Sushi or Sashimi. 
This shellfish is one of the expensive seafood in Japan.
The price of a piece over USD5 at least.

In Japan, This is served at conveyor belt sushi restaurants like a cheap sushi restaurant, may be Surf clam. Hahaha😄

Torigai (とり貝)


“Torigai” means egg cockle. The darker the color, the better its quality.  The flesh  becomes harder and sweeter after parboiled.

Hokki (ほっき)


“Hokki” means hen clam. In season from spring to summer. They turn pink after boiled. It is sweet and has a pleasant flavor.

Aoyagi (青柳)


Surf clam. These are also eaten Sushi, Sashimi, or pickles. It has a unique flavor of bitterness that works well with sake.

Mirugai (みる貝)


Gaper. Season is winter to spring. It has a nice elasticity and high umami taste.We eat them boiled, baked in butter or as tempura also.

This is the mainly Japanese shellfish. I introduce Seafoods later😉

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: