Mutsu Bay Scallops are known for their sweet savor and plump texture. Boasting outstanding quality and flavor, they are among the most highly prized seafood from Aomori prefecture.
What Makes Mutsu Bay Scallops Delicious
Mutsu Bay is surrounded by the Shimokita and the Tsugaru peninsula. The mineral-rich water from the Hakkoda Mountains feed plankton in the bay. With such a rich food source, Mutsu Bay Scallops thrive in the calm cove, which acts like an ocean cradle. The scallops are raised to the highest quality without artificial feed as each one is mindfully cared for by local fishermen.
How Mutsu Bay Scallops Are Farmed
The scallops in Mutsu Bay are farmed on the extensive seacoast except the central area. The three methods used in scallop farming are basket farming, ear-hanging farming, and ground stocking. Basket farming involves the scallops being placed in a netted cage in the ocean, while the ear-hanging farming involves hanging of the scallops using a thread through the “ear” of the scallop. Ground stocking method consists of raising scallops in baskets until they grow to a certain size, then the juvenile scallops are released into the ocean to be harvested after they have matured for over two years. The ground stocking method is mostly used in the towns of Noheji and Kawauchi, whereas the basket farming and the ear-hanging method is utilized in the rest of the bay.
Difference Between Hokkaido Scallops and Aomori’s Mutsu Bay Scallops
Hokkaido is the number one producer of scallops in Japan, with Aomori as the second. The two largest producing areas in Hokkaido are the Funka Bay and the Sea of Okhotsk. In Funka Bay, the juvenile scallops are farmed hung in the ocean just as in Mutsu Bay. In the Sea of Okhotsk, the ground stocking method is used. The scallops farmed in the Sea of Okhotsk grows in the frigid rough waters, making them firmer and meaty. They typically have sand inside due to their farming location, and are cleaned and de-sanded prior to being consumed for sushi. On the contrary, the scallops farmed in the Mutsu Bay grow to be plump and sweet, as they grow in the calm bay water that is rich in plankton.
A Versatile Item in the Kitchen
The peak season for Mutsu Bay Scallops is between the months of May and August when they grow the most. The second peak season comes around December to March when their eggs develop. Mutsu Bay Scallop is a highly versatile ingredient that can be consumed not only as sashimi, but also grilled, stewed, or fried. “Kayaki Miso” is a traditional food of Aomori locals using scallop. A large scallop shell is used as a pan to cook this dish, using seasonal ingredients seasoned with miso, and finished with beaten egg before serving.