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

By Mark Wiens 27 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!

27 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • High Rated Gabru

    3 years ago

    Nice food blog. Thanks for the info.

  • sankar singh

    3 years ago

    nice seafood blog . amazing to see people lined up for their turn . real sea food

  • Vishal

    5 years ago

    Nice work. Big thumb up for this blog post.

  • zina

    9 years ago

    They eat anything! NASTY!

  • Brett Graham

    10 years ago

    Hi, I really enjoyed reading your food blog! I’m going back to Tokyo in laye August and would really love to try and find this amazing seafood treat! Is there any chance you can possibly remember a rough location so I can try and hunt it down?

    Thanks very much!!

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hey Brett, great to hear from you, glad you’ll be going to Tokyo soon. It’s located right in-between the main fish market and the outer market, towards the Tsukiji market visitor tourist center. From the main road, turn on 4 Chome−16−2 and just walk for about 3 minutes and it will be on your left side.

    • Kauikeolani

      10 years ago

      I ate shirako on my visit to Sado Island. Earlier in the day I bought a package of dried fish. When I asked what kind of fish it was she replied, “White fish” “Tara”. Later that evening the waiter brought Tara fish and part of Tara fish. When I asked, what part? The electronic translator said testicles.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Haha, thank you for sharing. Eating is always a fun adventure.

  • Melissa Jordan

    10 years ago

    When I asked what that brain looking thing was, the reply was, “part of tara fish”. Then I asked, “what part”? She used her translator machine that stated testicles. I like shirako better that mentaiko.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Haha, thanks for sharing Melissa, shirako does sound the best!

  • Vivian

    10 years ago

    Bummer! I was at the fish market less than two weeks ago and didn’t see this vendor. I went to daiwa sushi like a tourist. Makes me so jealous. Btw, I love your videos. I’m a traveling food junkie as well. Japan was my 26ths country. And can’t wait to hit the road again.

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hey Vivian, oh cool, glad you just went here too! How was Daiwa Sushi?

    • Vivian

      10 years ago

      Daiwa Sushi was okay. The uni and salmon roe was very fresh, but the fatty tuna was very chewy/sinew. For the price, $35 prix fix meal, I think better sushi can be had elsewhere in Tokyo. They charged restaurant prices for street vendor ambiance. And of course, stomach space. I dislike filling my belly on food that is not the best that is out there. It’s a lost opportunity for better food around the corner.

      i read your other blog about Japan and have to agree with you, the food level of department store (isetan, takashimaya, mitsukoshi) will make any food lover’s head spin. Really hope to go back soon!

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hey Vivian, cool, thanks for sharing. I agree with you about filling you belly with the best that’s out there – and that especially holds true for Tokyo when you want to maximize quality and amount for the price!

  • fernando

    10 years ago

    I would eat this, in the photos looks so tasty! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sofia Rhodes

    10 years ago

    It really looks yummy, but unfortunately, I didn’t got opportunity to taste it. Well, it sounds bit awkward but your photography forced me to do so..!!! Keep clicking..!!

  • Echo Santos

    10 years ago

    Interesting. I feel like my brain is telling me “No way, I’m eating that!” but your pictures make it irresistibly appetizing! lol

  • Deia @ Nomad Wallet

    10 years ago

    Intriguing. And it actually looks really good on that shell!

  • Hannah

    10 years ago

    I had the privilege of eating it recently too, however it was for the entertainment of about 300 school kids… I agreed to take part in a Bush Tucker Trial for a recent charity event at my school, and this was on the menu. It had been cooked by a seventeen year old boy, and was served cold on a paper plate, slightly different experience to what you had!

    • Mark Wiens

      10 years ago

      Hey Hannah, thank you very much for sharing your story, hahah, sounds like it was a lot of fun for the school kids!! Haha, cold might not be quite a good as warm!

  • Raphael Alexander Zoren

    10 years ago

    I hope I never have to find out how sperm (hot, cold or spicy) tastes like hahahaa

    Great photos!!!!