Firefly Squid (Hotaru Ika)
- About 300 grams
- Approximately 6 to 8 centimeters long
- Product of Japan
Firefly Squid or Hotaru Ika 「ホタルイカ」are bioluminescent animals from Japan that swarm in from the deep sea to Toyama Bay, in order to attract a mate from March to June. For that short period of time, they illuminate the bay beautifully with their iridescent azure lights, with the gathering known as the "Mystery of Toyama Bay." Traditionally, it also heralds the beginning of spring.
The use cases of Hotaru Ika in Japan and the United States tend to be different. Hotaru Ika is prized for its uniquely slippery, but plump texture and taste. However, in Japan it's commonly served lightly boiled and seasoned as a bar snack or appetizer. It's also used as sashimi and sushi. In contrast, in the United States, Hotaru Ika is used mostly in higher-end cuisine for now, including more authentic sushi restaurants and in pastas at Italian restaurants.
One simple and popular way to enjoy Hotaru Ika is to remove the eyes, beak, and spine. Steam it for around five minutes in the seasoning of your choice, such as dashi [Japanese stock], miso, or soy. It's a mild topping, alongside a ramen-style boiled egg, on a bed of steaming, slightly soft and sticky rice.