Prawns, or shrimps, are a very popular seafood all over the world, including Japan. The variety is amazing and most delicious ones are rather expensive. Let’s have a look at the various popular kinds of Japanese shrimps.
Botan Ebi (ボタンエビ “Pandalus nipponensis”) are pandalid shrimp, orange-red in color and approximately 20cm long. They are a Hokkaido speciality, and their fishing season is from October to May.
Shiba Ebi (シバエビ , ‘Metapenaeus joyneri’) are approximately 10cm and therefore a lot smaller than Botan Ebi and since they are very tasty, they are used in various Japanese dishes, such as Sashimi, Tempura, Karaage, Kakiage and others.
Literally meaning “sweet shrimp” (甘エビ) but originally named Hokkoku Aka Ebi (ホッコクアカエビ, 北国赤海老, Pandalus eous). These are top-quality shrimps, with soft easy-to-peel-off shell and extremely popular due to their slightly sweet taste.
These “car shrimps”(車海老) can be up to 30cm and though they are being caught throughout the whole year, summer is their most popular season. Commonly used for Tempura, Ebi Fry, Karaage, Sashimi and other dishes, they considered another top-quality shrimp.
Generally, shrimps are always a rather posh kind of seafood and are mostly expensive. Cheaper kinds are ‘Black Tiger’ (ブラックタイガー), their original name is ‘Ushi Ebi’ (ウシエビ), and these are mostly imported. Another kind is ‘Kourai Ebi’ (コウライエビ), commonly known as ’Taisho Ebi’ (大正海老), which got its name from the increased amounts being fished out during the Taisho period (1912-1926).
What’s the proper way to eat sashimi-style prawns?
- Hold the head with your left hand, and the body with chopsticks in your right hand and start gently pulling it apart.
- Dip the body into soy sauce with wasabi and enjoy!
If you dare, you can eat the head, too!
- Hold the front corner and the legs firmly.
- Remove the top ‘head’ part by peeling it back.
- Hold the shell with your right hand.
- Dip it into the soy sauce with wasabi mix and sip the head’s contents. Bon appetite!