I’m a man with a notoriously narrow food palate, but while in Asia I made a concerted effort to try out foods that I’d normally be unwilling to eat. Probably the most notable instance of this was when I ate squid sashimi in the town of Hakodate. In Hakodate’s Morning Market there is an area with a tank full of squid that fishermen have brought in from the sea that day. For the price of about 800 yen you can catch one yourself and then have it chopped up for your eating pleasure. A guy working at the hostel I was staying at recommended that I try it, and at first I was hesitant, but after awhile I convinced myself that it would be good cultural experience and it would likely be the best squid I ever have, so if I didn’t like the squid I ate then I would know that squid just isn’t for me. I paid my fee to the old man running the operation and was given the small fishing rod used to catch the squid. At the end of line attached to the fishing rod is a small hook that you drop into the water and when a squid passes by you simply raise the line and try to hook the squid by the fins at the top. It’s a task that’s easier said than done, but after a few attempts I nabbed my squid and it was taken over to the chef who worked his knife magic to prepare my meal. Below is a photo of the final product.
The parts of the squid that you eat are the muscular upper regions and the tentacles, along with these brown pod-like things that I’m not sure what they were. I didn’t particularly like the pods but the other parts weren’t bad. The tentacles were notable both for being the meatiest part of the squid and because they weren’t fully dead; when I poked them with my chopsticks they would wriggle around a little (and if you put them in soy sauce they move even more). I can’t really describe the flavor of the squid because there’s nothing I’ve eaten in the past that seems like a good comparison. Granted, with my narrow palate that isn’t really a surprise. What I can say, however, is that the squid I ate that day was the freshest animal product I’ve ever eaten. It was very much alive when I caught it and a minute later it was diced up on my plate.