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Pen Shells and Sake on an Edo-Style Hibachi

This video, titled "Tairagi (Pen shell)【Japanese food at "NAGA-HIBACHI"】" was uploaded by "TEKOZO" (てこ蔵・TEKOZO).
In shows how to cook delicious pen shells over a traditional Japanese wooden hibachi using charcoal.
Pen shells are large, high-end shellfish with, similar to scallops, edible adductor muscles.
From 0:06 of the video, you can see the pen shell before it's cooked.
Just one pen shell goes for approximately 400-600 yen (~4-6 USD).
In the video, you will also see the liver and other organs cooked.

In this article, we'll introduce pen shells and how to cook them.
Be sure to check out the video to see what kind of shellfish pen shells are!

Pen Shells - A Delectable Shell Fish!

Image of a pen shell
Photo:A pen shell

Pen shells are some of the largest bivalves in Japan in terms of edible shellfish species, reaching a shell length of 30 cm or more.
There are two types of pen shells: one with fine scale-like projections on the surface of the shell (scaled type), and the other without scale-like projections and with a smooth shell surface (scale-free type).
They are found in the Seto Inland Sea (Harimanada Sea, Osaka Bay, Bisan Seto, Bingo-nada Sea, Suo-nada Sea, and the Iyo-nada Sea), Ise Bay, and Tokyo Bay, and on sandy mud bottoms in inner bay areas.

In Japanese pen shells are called "tairagi" or "tairagai" (タイラギ/平貝) and cost about 400 to 600 yen each.
The video describes pen shell season as spring to early summer, but according to the website of the Saga Prefecture Fishery Cooperative Federation, the fishing season is from December to March.
Because the number of natural pen shells is declining, aquaculture is being promoted in controlled environments, such as the Ariake Sea.
The most commonly eaten part of pen shells is the adductor muscle (scallop), which is thinly sliced and served as sashimi.
It is also eaten fried, as tempura, grilled with salt or butter, simmered in vinegar, eaten with miso soup, etc.
The liver and other organs of pen shells can also be consumed.

How to Eat Pen Shells, and Recipes Shown in the Video

Image of an Edo-style Hibachi
Photo:Edo-style Hibachi

The video shows how to open a pen shell starting at 0:10.
Slightly open the shell and remove the guts, followed by the adductor muscle (scallop) on one side.
Be sure to set the liver and other innards aside as well if you plan on eating them.

Sprinkle salt on the scallop and mantle.
The pen shell in the video is grilled in a traditional, Edo-style hibachi.
It is a box-shaped hibachi with drawers that was used in Japan during the Edo Period (1603-1868), and can be used as a table when you're finished cooking.

Starting at 0:50 in the video, the pen shells are grilled on the Edo-style hibachi on which charcoal is placed.
While sipping on some delicious sake, one scallop is grilled directly on the grill and the other on a shell filled with sake to let it simmer.
The scallop cooked directly on the grill is served first with soy sauce.

In the video, they mention that the taste is similar to scallops and is delicious.
The scallops are grilled on the shell with butter to make them even fluffier and more aromatic.
On the other shell, the mantle and liver are grilled with butter and soy sauce.
The mantle is thick and tasty, while the liver is said to be light in flavor with no odor.

Video Summary of Cooking Pen Shells on an Edo-Style Hibachi

The above video, "Tairagi (Pen shell)【Japanese food at "NAGA-HIBACHI"】" introduces how to prepare and eat pen shells.
We hope you've learned what kind of shellfish pen shells are.

It's a high-end shellfish and rarely sold to the public in Japan because the number of natural pen shells is decreasing, but if you have the chance to try them, we definitely recommend it!
Be sure to wash it down with some tasty Japanese sake as well!

Written By
Last Updated : Mar. 16, 2023
I'm a writer who likes to eat good food wherever I go

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Cooking up Some Delicious Pen Shells! Charcoal on an Edo-Style Hibachi Gives You a Taste That Rivals That of a Luxury Japanese Restaurant!
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