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Winter is the Season! Oysters in Japan

Updated: Feb 7


"Big and Milky" - Discover the world's most delicious oysters! Oysters are rich in nutrients, very well balanced, and are popularly known as "milk of the sea" or "complete food of the sea" in Japan.

Oysters are juicy, plump, and delicious. However, if they are not cooked skillfully, the oyster meat will become small and tough, look poor, and the tasty oyster juice will run out.

Learn the secrets of cooking the perfect, juicy, plump oysters by studying Japanese oyster cuisine at JCI. You can learn all of the delicious oyster dishes featured below in JCI's courses (depending on the season).

Don't hesitate to request it when you send in your application form.

This article will introduce you to the oyster season in Japan, the different types of oysters, the famous production areas, the local menus, and the oyster dishes you can learn at JCI. Table of Contents 1. The best time to enjoy oysters in Japan is twice a year! 2. Introducing the famous oyster-producing regions in Japan! 3. Oyster dishes that the Japanese love! 4. Summary


1. The best time to enjoy oysters in Japan is twice a year!

Oysters have a common perception that they are in season in winter, but there are two main types of oysters eaten in Japan: "Rock oysters" (see photo above) and "Pacific oysters. The following is a detailed introduction of the season and features of each type.



Rock Oysters: In season during the summer months of June through September. The shells are thicker than those of the pacific oysters mentioned later, and the size and weight of the oysters are much larger. They have a rich and complex flavor with a unique salty and astringent taste from the sea and a succulent and juicy plump texture. Although some oysters are cultivated, most are natural, making them very rare and more expensive than cultivated oysters.

Pacific Oyster: From November in winter to around April in early spring, the season is opposite of the rock oyster season. They are smaller than rock oysters. Most of the oysters sold by seafood retailers and supermarkets are Pacific oysters. They are available all year round, fresh and cooked or frozen. Hiroshima Prefecture is the most famous producer. (Photo courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture) In Japan, the season for eating oysters depends on the type of oyster. Since most oysters are in circulation are Pacific oysters, the oyster season is generally recognized as winter.



2. Introducing the famous oyster-producing regions in Japan!

↑ "Oyster farm" in Hiroshima, where delicious oysters are cultivated. (Photo courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture) Where are the famous oyster-producing areas in Japan? Here, we will introduce the production areas and the specific characteristics of each oyster. 1. Hiroshima: Hiroshima Prefecture is the largest producer of oysters in Japan and arguably the most famous. Its oysters are juicy, with small shells and ample, plump flesh rich in flavor. The season is from October to May. 2. Sanriku Coast: The Sanriku Coast, located in the northeastern part of Japan, is rich in ocean currents and nutrients, making it an ideal environment for oysters to grow. Oysters are in season from November to April. Oysters are in season from November to April, when many oysters can be consumed raw, and the oyster shacks are crowded with tourists. JCI staff will be happy to help you make reservations. 3. Hokkaido: Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost and largest island, has three major oyster-producing regions with different shipping seasons and different tastes and shapes. Lake Saroma and Lake Shiriuchi are from November to March, while Akkeshi oysters are grown all year round. Akkeshi oysters are grown all year round. Akkeshi oysters are flavorful, Lake Saroma oysters have a rich milky sweetness, and Shiriuchi oysters are rich and creamy.

Natural rock oysters are grown mainly along the coast of the Sea of Japan from northern Japan, Kyoto Prefecture, the Pacific Ocean, the coast of Kyushu, and the bay area of central Japan. Shipment starts around April. Large rock oysters are rare and hard to find outside of Japan. What do you think? They are huge! In JCI's summer course, we go to one of those beaches, and the oyster fisher will let us try the best way to eat the oysters, which are as big as the palm of your hand. This is a limited-time opportunity, so please check the schedule in advance if you are interested in oyster cooking.



3. Oyster dishes that the Japanese love! 

Now, let me introduce you to some oyster dishes in Japan.

The photo above is the "Double Hiroshima Specialty, Oyster Okonomiyaki," a gourmet dish from Hiroshima Prefecture, where oysters are a specialty, topped with oyster sautéed on a griddle. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese-style "unsweetened pancake." As the name suggests, your favorite ingredients are added to the flour and egg-based batter and then grilled. It is made with plenty of chopped cabbage, meat, eggs, seafood, and other ingredients of your choice (and, in the case of Hiroshima, yakisoba noodles). This cheap-eat dish is served hot with plenty of sweet and sour sauce, but the addition of oysters makes it all the more gorgeous.

"Oyster Rice," oysters cooked in rice seasoned with soy sauce and broth. Japanese people, for whom rice is a staple food, love to serve rice with seasonal ingredients, regardless of whether they are oysters or not. We enjoy bamboo shoots and wild vegetables in early spring, chestnuts in autumn, etc., with rice. To prevent oysters from becoming hard due to overcooking, they are quickly braised in soup stock and soy sauce-based sauce beforehand. The rice is cooked in the sauce with the added flavor from the oysters and then topped with the oysters when serving.

When it comes to winter in Japan, we cannot forget about nabe; a hot pot shared among people. Oyster nabe, a local dish in Hiroshima Prefecture, famous for its oysters, is also known as Dote-yaki. "Dote" is a Japanese word meaning a bank built along a riverbank to prevent flooding. Miso is applied to the edge of the earthenware pot to make it look like a bank. When cooking, the miso is mixed in to adjust the flavor. This dish is characterized by its rich, red miso broth. Fresh oysters are quickly cooked to prevent the meat from becoming tough. (All three photos courtesy of Hiroshima Prefecture)

Here's how to make fried oysters, which can be made with frozen oysters (see above).

Fried oysters are oysters covered with breadcrumbs and deep-fried in oil. Many Japanese people prefer fried oysters to raw oysters, so why not give it a try?


<Fried Oysters for 2 persons >

Ingredients

Oysters (shucked): 6 large pieces

Oil for deep-frying: Canola oil, etc. as needed


For the batter

Flour (for dusting): 1 tablespoon

1/2 egg

Water: 50ml 

Flour: 4 tablespoons

Panko or breadcrumbs (dry): 1 cup (you can also make breadcrumbs by crushing bread in a food processor)


<Fried oysters for two people>. 1. Remove the oyster shells. Lightly rinse the oyster flesh with salt water to remove any dirt, then wash immediately. After rinsing, wipe off the water. 2. Beat the egg (1/2 egg) in a bowl, add water to make 50ml, add 4 tablespoons and mix well. 3. Spread the flour on a flat plate, dust the oysters with flour, and coat with 2. 4. Cover the oysters with a generous amount of bread crumbs on another plate. 5. Heat the deep-frying oil to 180°C over medium to high heat. Gently place the pieces one at a time into the oil and remove them when the oysters are golden brown. *Depending on the size of the oysters, the frying time should be about 2 minutes. Serve with lemon and cocktail sauce.



4. Summary

Try some fresh Japanese oysters or oyster dishes! You can enjoy them at an oyster bar or try them yourself. Oysters are delicious raw, grilled, or fried, so try them this winter.


Lastly, we would like to introduce an episode related to oysters ingenious in Japan.

Have you ever heard of Kumamoto oysters (see photo), popular in oyster bars, especially in North America and Europe? Kumamoto is the name of a prefecture in Kyushu, the southernmost island of Japan. The petite oysters called "Kumamoto oysters" are grown mainly on the Pacific coast of the U.S. and are very popular in the U.S. However, the high-end oysters (pictured above) are not exported from Kumamoto Prefecture.


After World War II, in 1945, Japan resumed exporting baby oysters to the United States. The U.S. and Europe tended to prefer smaller oysters that were easier to eat, and the export of the tiny Kumamoto oyster was a huge success. The oysters were successfully cultivated in the U.S. and branded as "Kumamoto Oysters." As Japanese, we are happy and deeply fascinated by the fact that something born in Japan has grown and taken root abroad.


Oysters are one of the most essential ingredients in Japanese cuisine, and at JCI, you will learn how to prepare Japanese oysters in various ways and compare the taste of oysters from different regions.

As in the case of the Kumamoto oyster, the key to success in running a restaurant is to develop Japanese cuisine that is suitable for each country.

JCI is committed to helping you create an original Japanese menu that can be made with ingredients available in your country and loved by the people of your country.


Would you like to learn about authentic Japanese cuisine, not culture, not a hobby, at JCI?

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