Have You Ever Wondered How Cod Sperm Tastes? (I Never Did, Until I Tried This Without Knowing)

By Mark Wiens 9 Comments
Tokyo street food
Cooking with flame torches!

I was on my way out of the Tsukiji Fish Market, heading back to the metro station, when I heard the “woosh” of two flame torches.

A few seconds later, I had made the impulse decision that I had to eat whatever he was cooking.

How could you resist something as cool as this?

And since I travel to eat, there was no way I was going to miss this scallop seafood medley, mixed up in a shell and flame torched to perfection when I was Tokyo.

Just outside Tsukiji fish market
Just outside Tsukiji fish market

It wasn’t a big line, just a few people waiting their turn, but I also noticed that there were quite a few local Japanese waiting to grab one of these seafood treats as well – and even the Japanese people that bought one, were snapping photos of it with their phones.

About 5 minutes later, I had a dangerously hot scallop shell filled with a medley of items from the sea in the palm of my hand… and in fact it was so hot from the flame throwers, I had to lay it down on a styrofoam box on the sidewalk to start eating.

Tsukiji fish market
I was hoping to eat a few of these too…

On a side note, as well as selling his scallop seafood creation, this Japanese street food vendor was also selling a pile of fresh crab… I wish he would have been cooking that up too!

Japanese street food
Preparing this seafood street food treat

The basic recipe for this impressive seafood street food delicacy began with a giant scallop, which he took a pair of scissor to and cut it up into a few chunks.

He then added in a couple of oysters, some uni (sea urchin), a finally a blob of “white brain looking thing” …which I of course, had no idea what it was until after eating it and researching it when I got back to my hotel (hint… it might be in the title of this post).

Cooking in Japan
Genius cooking techniques

A little squirt of sauce, maybe soy sauce, and he then grabbed the essential flame throwers.

Japanese food
It was so cool to watch this man cook!

It really only took about 20 seconds or so to cook using those high powered flame throwers.

He first torched the bottom of the shells, the juicy seafood liquid boiling in milliseconds, and then shot the flame directly onto the top of the sea urchin to give it a quick toasted char.

Fresh seafood in Japan
Drooling for fresh seafood…!

While he was cooking, I experienced an unexplainable food high – kind of like I wasn’t even unaware of my surroundings for those few moments.

To my pure amazement and food delight, my shell of Tsukiji fresh seafood was ready to be eaten!

Scallop seafood medley
Scallop seafood medley

He handed it to me on a small paper plate.

And I handed him my 800 JPY ($7.81) with joy.

Like so much of the marvelous food in Japan, this scallop seafood medley was so beautiful to look at. The seafood was singed with bits of char on the outside, but it looked so incredibly juicy.

For my first bite, I went straight to the scallop
For my first bite, I went straight to the scallop

I went in first for the scallop, a huge fleshy scallop.

The meat was incredibly sweet, and flaky like crab. It was insanely good.

Then the uni (sea urchin), which I had just had a big portion of an hour before, while eating at Nakaya restaurant (more on this later), was also wonderful.

Then I ate an oyster, which was equally as good as everything else.

The white thing – known as shirako

Finally, I grabbed a bit of the unfamiliar white thing with my chopsticks…

This was something I had never tried before… and to me it sort of looked like a chicken intestines looking thing.

It was very goopy, and actually tasted a lot like runny cream cheese. Not bad at all.

I finished off the shell of seafood delight, and it was as beautiful tasting as it had looked.

Straight from the Tsukiji fish market, the seafood was all extremely fresh, and so pure tasting. Even with little seasoning, just a squirt of some seasoning, the quality and freshness of the seafood is what shined through.

Yup, there is it – shirako – cod sperm – and it was quite tasty!

When I got back to my hotel, we did a little research to see what the white intestines actually were.

It didn’t take longer than a few seconds to discover it was a cherished Japanese delicacy known as shirako… or cod sperm! Yum!

Here’s the video…

(Or watch on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/BHFYi88AgNE)

Anyway, this awesome scallop seafood dish on the outside of Tsukiji fish market was amazing, and everything I had hoped for.

The seafood was fresh and sweet, and I would even gladly eat some more cod sperm!