"Dancing Squid Dish" - This unique meal is available in Hakodate, Hokkaido.
Hakodate is well known for its squid (or in Japanese - ika) dishes, from raw squid sashimi to ika somen. Although there are many shops in town with squid on their menu, I chose to visit "Ikasei," a restaurant where fresh squid and other seafood is the main feature, for today's article.
Upon entering the restaurant, you'll notice the large tank beneath the counter. Inside are shrimp, scallops, other delicious forms of sea life, and squid!
The squid found in this tank during my visit in May were spear squid.but they change depending on the fishing season. From January to May there are spear squid, from June to December you can find Pacific flying squid.
To remove the squid for cooking, the staff use a long stick with a needle point on the end.
Let's see how they do it!
Oops. Just after I snapped my first photo, while the picture was loading, they caught their squid. Too fast for the camera(man) to catch!
They catch the squid with a such a supernatural speed it almost seemed like a magic trick.
They prepared the squid for cooking just as quickly, a sure sign of a quality in a squid restaurant.
First they remove the abdomen, wash it and plate it up.
The squid, removed from the tank mere minutes before, is still dancing when it is placed on the dish.
The remaining portion of the squid is then thinly sliced...
...and the plate is complete!
The dish is beautiful arranged, and the squid is actually still moving when served.
This squid is actually quite docile in its movement. Later in the year, when Pacific flying squid are used, they move so much they are likely to jump right off the plate.
Enjoying the squid at this stage is an interesting experience, as it moves around on your tongue as you eat. I wish I could have shown you a video.
Many people enjoy their squid with wasabi or soy sauce as a topping.
In Hakodate the common garnish seems to be ginger, which is evident by the yellow ginger piled high on the plate. In Japan squid topping preference is often divided by household.
But ginger isn't the only topping available in Hakodate.
For fishermen who enjoy eating squid topped with grated radish dripping with soy sauce. Because of the special purpose of the trip, I sampled three different kinds of squid dishes for comparison.
The three flavors I tried were:
Right: Wasabi = Tangy
Middle: Ginger = Mild
Left: Grated Radish = Easy on the pallet
When I was young I used to eat a lot of squid with wasabi, and I occasionally enjoyed it with ginger as well, but this was the first time I've ever had the grated radish combo!
The taste was quite unexpected! It has just the right level of spice.
The fresh squid has a certain sweetness that balances wonderfully with the spice and is so fresh it practically melts in your mouth.
In addition to the sashimi style, you can also enjoy "Ikasei fluffy fried squid."
Made from minced squid and root vegetables, this dish is delicious.
Just like the name says, the texture of this squid is quite light, and the taste is surprisingly light as well!
Next up is the "squid croquette."
This delicious croquette in made with squid, shrimp, crab, and Baron potatoes in a white sauce base.
Enjoyed with a bit of curry salt for seasoning.
The slight hint of curry taste provides the perfect accent to the dish.
With the large amount of fresh seafood included, the dish has a luxurious taste.
There are other squid dishes available as well, so if you visit you can look forward to discovering different items on the menu.
To wrap up the meal, I enjoyed the Hakodate special "Goryokaku mojito."
The taste was refreshing, perfect for topping off the fried squid flavor.
If you have a hankering for some fresh squid, look no further than Hakodate's "Ikasei."
You can find the restaurant in front of the area's "Central Hospital" easily reachable via the "Mint Tram."
※We introduced the "Mint Tram" on Hokkaido Likers here: http://post.hokkaidolikers.com/en/detail/415
Hakodate is one of the best places in Hokkaido for gourmet squid dishes.
So if you're looking to try a bite of the dishes above, be sure to stop by!
Article written in cooperation with:
活魚料理「いか清」 (Fresh Seafood Cuisine "Ikasei")
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Nobu Kawashima)