Autumn Shako
Takashima Fishing Port (Honma Fishery) in Otaru City

Shako, sometimes called Mantis shrimp in English, is a kind of seafood valued for its role as a sushi ingredient. Boiled shako has a soft texture. Otaru produces more Shako than any other part of Hokkaido. Shako caught on Honshu, Japan’s largest island, are typically about 10 cm in size. But Otaru shako often grow to 18 cm or larger. They are also known for being intensely savory and sweet, and sometimes served with deliciously rich eggs still inside. Some people boil shako in salt, painstakingly remove the shells with scissors, and eat this delicacy like crab. Shako’s unique texture and taste has earned it many loyal fans.
detail_2_1 detail_2_1
Female shako is best served in spring when you can enjoy the thick, rich eggs still inside. Male shako is recommended from late autumn into winter, and offers a pleasantly firm texture and savory taste. Shako are caught in Ishikari Bay using a gill net. Done when the sea is choppy and the seafloor is murky, this style of fishing takes advantage of the shako’s tendency to leave their underwater burrows more frequently at such times. Fishermen prepare nets in advance when expecting stormy weather.
detail_3_1 detail_3_1
Early morning at Takashima Fishing Port. This is the busiest time of day, as the area around the fishing port bustles vibrantly with the hard work of preparing shako caught in the nets, and boiling them with salt or preparing them for sushi. Shako can be difficult to work with because their freshness fades rapidly. This is because shako actually release a dissolving enzyme after death that causes the body to waste away. And due to this, it has become standard practice to toss the just-caught shako straight from their nets into an enormous pot and boil them for a few minutes before doing anything else.
However, here at Musou, our shop manager actually goes out to Otaru fishing ports to retrieve the freshly caught shako while they are still alive. This allows us to carefully control the amount of salt and the temperature during the boiling process, and to achieve just the right flavor. It might seem like a considerable effort for a small adjustment, but doing this truly brings out an impressively savory flavor and creates a unique, one-of-a-kind texture you won’t find anywhere else. This is Musou’s Shako Sushi – second-to-none.
Autumn Shako
Takashima Fishing Port
(Honma Fishery)
in Otaru City