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A Look at the Popular Squid Dish From Hakodate, Hokkaido

This video, titled "Japanese Street Food - DANCING SQUID SASHIMI Hakodate Japan Seafood," was released by "Travel Thirsty."
Squid is a common dish in Japan, but around the world, squid is generally only eaten in Asia, the Americas, and Mediterranean regions such as Italy, while countries where squid is eaten as sashimi are limited to Japan and Korea.
In Europe, squid and octopus are generally avoided because of their grotesque appearance, but as Japanese food has become more popular around the world, they have slowly come to be accepted.
The setting for this video is a food stall-style restaurant called "Tabiji" located in "Ekini Market" in Hakodate, Hokkaido.
The restaurant serves squid and other fresh seafood dishes.

Hakodate is popular for its wide variety of seafood dishes, and we recommend the squid dish shown in the video.
The highlight of the restaurant is the fresh squid caught in the squid fishing pool inside the restaurant, which is processed and made into sashimi or ika odori don (a dancing squid rice bowl).
You might be thinking "eating live squid is cruel," but don't worry, all the squid dishes served here are properly processed and the squid is in fact not live!
You can also try other seafood, including various seafood bowls and sashimi.

Squid Is a Common Dish in Japan, but How Much Do You Know About Its Biology?

Image of squid

For Japanese people, squid is a dish that can be eaten on a daily basis in a variety of delicious recipes.
However, very few people know about the biology of squid, so let's learn a little about them here.

Squid are marine mollusks, and as they are nocturnal animals, squid fishing is done at night.
The main edible species, such as the Japanese common squid/Japanese flying squid and heterololigo (spear squid), are found in groups.
Squid are often thought to have ten legs, but in fact they have eight, the same number as octopus, and the other two are actually tentacles and act as arms.
Squid have a more developed muscle and nervous system than other marine organisms, making them one of the top ecosystems in the ocean.
There are a variety of species, from the tiny firefly squid measuring only 2 cm in length to the giant squid measuring over 20 meters in length.

Squid is a healthy food that is rich in nutrients such as vitamin E, taurine, amino acids, zinc, DHA and EPA.

Fresh Squid Recipes

Image of ika somen
Photo:Ika somen

In other countries, squid is mainly eaten as fritters, but since Japan is the world's largest consumer of squid, many delicious recipes have been developed throughout the years.
Ekini Morning Market, shown in the video, is known as the pioneer of squid fishing pools, where customers fish for squid in a small "pond" and the squid is prepared on the spot.
You can see the squid fishing pool from 0:36 in the video.

The best way to eat fresh squid is as sashimi!
To cut squid, cut along the body and separate the body from the legs.
The legs have suckers, a sharp beak, and innards, so carefully separate them with a knife so that the innards are not crushed.
From there, cut the body of the squid into thin strips with a knife to make ika somen (squid noodles), a classic squid dish.
You can see ika somen being prepared at 2:51 in the video.

Fresh squid sashimi is very firm and chewy.
The innards of the squid can also be eaten as sashimi, but the best way to eat them is to add salt, crush it, and marinate the squid slices overnight.
It can also be cooked in any other preferred method, such as simmered squid and taro, dried squid, or stir-fried.
In the video, the freshly processed squid is still moving on the plate, and at 11:57 you can see the squid's legs desperately clinging to the plate with its suckers.

Summary of the Squid at Ekini Market in Hakodate, Hokkaido

Image of the Japanese common squid
Photo:Japanese common squid

At 12:54, towards the end of the video, you can see a delicious squid bowl with ika somen noodles, a generous amount of salmon roe, and a freshly processed squid.
When you pour soy sauce on the squid the body will start to move and you might feel a little sorry for them, but just remember that they're not live, they're just as fresh as they can be.

There are many rich squid fishing grounds in the seas around Japan, and the season varies for different types of squid: January to May is the best time to catch spear squid, and June to December is the best time to catch Japanese common squid.

If you’re visiting Hakodate be sure to enjoy all of the delicious, fresh seafood the city has to offer!

◆Hakodate Morning Market – Ekini Market|General Information◆
【Address】9-19 Wakamatsucho, Hakodate 040-0063 Hokkaido
【Access】Approximately 20 minutes from Hakodate Airport via car or taxi
【Hours】May – Oct. 5:30 A.M. – 2:00 P.M., Nov. – Apr. 6:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
【Closures】The third Sunday of each month, July, Sept., Dec. no closures
【Parking】Available (New Ohte Rooftop Parking)

【Tripadvisor】Hakodate Morning Market Ekini Market (駅ニ市場)

Written By
Last Updated : Nov. 18, 2022
児玉 勇(Yu Kodama)
A writer who loves Japan and yakitori
Ika Odori Don - The Dish That Keeps on Dancing After It’s Served! If You Like Squid Then This Dish Is Right up Your Alley!
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