What is Tokobushi abalone?
Tokobushi abalone is widely distributed from southern Hokkaido to Kyushu and Taiwan. It inhabits the reef zones along the coasts facing the open ocean in warm seas. It is oval in shape and has a shell length of 7 cm. In the past, people thought that the Tokobushi abalone was the child of the abalone.
Abalone has four to five water absorption holes, which are tubular, while Tokobushi abalone has six to nine water absorption holes, and the holes are more numerous and larger than those of abalone. Based on the amount of Tokobushi abalone caught, Kochi, Tokushima, and Mie prefectures are the production areas.
The average wholesale price of Tokobushi abalone at the Toyosu market is around US$30 per kilogram. Since domestic catches alone cannot keep up with demand, a large number of imports, mainly from Taiwan, are also distributed. The scientific name is Sulculus diversicolor supertexta (Lischke, 1870). A substitute is Luzon Tokobushi (Haliotis(Sulculus) glabra Gmelin, 1791), which is mainly processed into canned products.
Incidentally, Kinki University, which has succeeded in the complete cultivation of bluefin tuna, has been conducting research on Tokobushi abalone cultivation since 2014. The university succeeded in artificial hatching in the same year, and is currently continuing its research with the aim of achieving complete aquaculture.
What does Tokobushi abalone sushi taste like?
Tokobushi abalone has a strong scent and taste similar to that of abalone, but its meat is smaller and thinner than that of other types of abalone (Japanese abalone (黒鮑), disk abalone (雌貝鮑), ezo abalone (蝦夷鮑), giant abalone (真高鮑)). Tokobushi abalone is generally not eaten raw, but rather boiled or steamed. Many sushi chefs say that when heated, the taste is richer than that of abalone.
Tokobushi abalone is sold in the market throughout the year, but in many fishing areas, winter is a closed season. While abalone, which is suitable for steamed shellfish, is in season in summer, Tokobushi abalone, on the contrary, is in season in winter and is used as an alternative to abalone for steamed shellfish in winter.
However, because the catch of Tokobushi abalone is decreasing and its price is high like that of abalone, few sushi restaurants use it. Compared to abalone, Tokobushi abalone is softer and does not get tough when heated, so it is boiled in soy sauce and sake to make Tsumami.
We hope this information will be helpful.
Revision date: April 14, 2023
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