What is Shiraebi?
Shiraebi is a floating shrimp with a length of 6 to 8 cm. Its body is flat, as if it has been squished from both sides. It has a smooth surface and is a pale coral color. When alive, it has a sort of transparency, but once it dies it turns to an opaque, milky white color. During the daytime, Shiraebi floats in the sea at depths of 150 to 300 m, but at night moves up to shallower spots, at about 100 m. When the sun comes up it goes deeper again. In Toyama Bay there is a submarine valley called “Aigame” because of its deep indigo color (‘aigame’ is a vat for indigo dye) and due to its high concentration of Shiraebi, it is the only place in Japan where Shiraebi is caught. Shrimping here takes place between April and November. Shiraebi is known as a specialty of Toyama Prefecture where it is normally called “Shiroebi”.
Shiraebi loses its freshness quickly, so at one time it could only be eaten fresh in the production area around Toyama Bay. Thanks to advancements in distribution, in recent years it has become available even in markets located far away. They are delivered to markets either with or without shells. Those with shells are used for fried shrimp while the peeled Shiraebi are used for sashimi or sushi. It is even being used recently in high-end sushi restaurants in Tokyo for Nigiri sushi.
What does Shiraebi nigiri taste like?
Fresher Shiraebi is characterized by the softness that fits well with Shari, the subtle and sophisticated sweetness and delicate flavor. Marinating with kelp (Kobujime) and then making it into Nigiri sushi really brings out the sweetness making it a first-rate piece of sushi. It is also good in Gunkan maki (battleship rolls), but if possible it’s better as Nigiri sushi, laid directly on the Shari.
Also called Shiroebi
(Revision date: November 3, 2022)