Last February, I visited Hokkaido and couldn’t wait to taste Shirako 白子… so you don’t have to 😉
What is Shirako?
First clue: it goes on roe…
Second clue: 白子 literally means white children. Got it?
It is… cod milt (or fish semen)! In Japan it is considered as a delicacy.
Apparently trying shirako is a big thing for some foreigner but I don’t find this food strange since we eat the female eggs (roe) and even find caviar particularly appealing. We have to be consistent in our food concept. Moreover, not waisting anything is common sense. All the more reasons if it’s tasty!
Shirako is served both raw and cooked. It is commonly eaten as sashimi, sushi, pan-cooked or in soup. Shirako is in season in winter, from November to late February. Hokkaido is the ideal place to get top fresh quality. You can find it as a seasonal item in most sushi bars and even Kaiten-zushi (conveyor belt sushi restaurants).
At first glance, Shirako looks like a big piece of brain, pretty much like pig’s brain except that the individual sections are more prominent. Or maybe… just a bunch of intertwining worms.
The first time I ordered it (since it was not on the menu I had to ask the chief), I was a bit concerned that other customers look at me with a discreet smirk. But really, nobody could care less. It’s just a normal food here. I love Japan 😀
How does it taste?
I choose to have is as sushi. First, I cut a small piece to taste the pure shirako flavour. It simply melts on the tongue in a velvety sensation. It’s almost creamy and feels rich like a rich thick cream cheese would be. The flavour surprised me since I expected a strong fishy taste. In fact, it was a very subtle fishy flavour, not bland but not strong neither, the perfect balance. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered it few times during my trip. Maybe people who are not crazy about seafood should give it a go as well.