Hotategai Sushi • Discover the best recipe!

Written by Peter Allen on . Posted in food

If you love sushi and you’ve not had a taste of the hotategai sushi then you are indeed missing out on a lot as it is one of the best thing you’d probably taste. As a matter of fact, this sushi is my family’s favorite and it also happens to be the only type of sushi amongst the different kind of sushi my kids love.

Not only do they taste amazingly good but the farmed ones are also sustainable and eco-friendly. It is something you would want to try out, and if peradventure you don’t know anything about it then today is your lucky day as I present to you the mouthwatering hotategai sushi.

What is hotategai?

So, for the most part of this article, I will be making use of the word “Hotategai” and I think it is of paramount importance that we know what it means. Hotategai basically means Japanese scallop or jumbo scallops.

However, hotate-gai (帆立貝) as a Japanese word means self-raising calm and this relates to scallop in the sense that at the point when scallop flaps their shells open and shut, moving themselves through water, it looks a sail being raised hence it best describes the movement of the scallop.

It is among the best type of shellfish to ocean food lovers and it is extremely uncommon to see sushi-ya that does not offer hotategai. They are of several species worldwide and extend in various sizes that outline from the prophylactic stomach to a youth league catcher’s glove.

In Japan hotategai flourish in chilly northern waters, Hokkaido and Aomori prefecture are celebrated for their scallops and it might interest you to know that all scallops anywhere in the Japanese market are monetarily or commercially cultivated, the same goes for at least half of the scallops utilized in the US. The other half are still normally dredged legitimately from the untamed sea, up and down the northern scope of the two coasts.

Notwithstanding, scallops either economically or generally raised, may still be of different species depending on how close you are to the Atlantic or pacific and your sushi-ya’s seafood supplier. As a general rule the firmer, the sweeter the meat, the farther north the scallops home address.

Unlike other shell-fish, scallops don’t lie as idle as a beginner on a journey on a Dramamine overdose, trusting that current will bring them supper. They move around, they frolic. Hotategai hastens about, fluttering their shells to fly here and thither so cheerfully that if you see them in their characteristic home you will hate to eat them.

Scallop sushi – Hotate

Raw scallop sushi commonly known as hotate in Japanese, it is unlike any sushi you’ve probably tasted, and on most occasions it is considered a luxury item in most sushi restaurants. You will likely see a good number of chefs serving ten or less in a pound dry sea scallops dug from the bottom of the ocean.

As for me though, I prefer to use bay scallops, usually harvested from the west coast of Florida somewhere around the crystal river. The area is also rich with a substantial amount of sea-grass in pristine water, which happens to be the perfecting thriving ground for scallops.

However, since bay scallops are a little bit smaller compared to the sea or ocean scallops, it is almost impossible to make them into the normal hotategai nigiri. So, I just prefer to slice them into little pieces and make the good old Gunkan style sushi. This practically enables the nori (seaweed) to act as an eatable cup that properly supports the scallop so it doesn’t slip off.

What part of the hotategai is edible?

All parts of the jumbo scallop are eatable and as long as I can remember, the roe and the adductor muscle are the only part that has a noticeable amount of proteins. While the other parts like the digestive glands and gills have little or value and are often thrown away. It said that in China you would often find chefs steaming the scallops on the half shell with the roe and this is often considered a delicacy.

Dry and wet hotategai

So, not everyone has the time and energy to start catching scallops and, on most occasion, they tend to buy, when buying having it in mind that not all scallops are the same and basically there are two different categories of a scallop; the wet and dry scallop.

The dry scallop, which happens to be the best quality as it has no additives, is usually the one that is not treated with any chemicals. The wet scallop, on the other hand, is usually treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STP) which is an additive that is normally used to add water weight to seafood, most especially shrimps.

However, differentiating between the two should not be something to worry about as their differences are very noticeable. For wet scallops, they have a white color and are always soaking in its liquid while the naturally dry has a light creamy color somewhat close to orange and do not soak in its liquid.

More so, wet scallop tends to produce an unusual amount of liquid when it’s being cooked and you might also a very whitish liquid when they are pan seared, nine out of ten times those scallops were STP treated. Although the heath aspect of consuming STP treated seafood is debatable, why on earth should I spend extra money on artificial weight.

Guide to buying scallops

Dry scallops

  • Taste Sweet and savory
  • Creamy in color
  • Don’t soak in its liquid
  • More expensive

Wet scallop

  • Less savory taste
  • White in color
  • Soaks in its liquid
  • Sweats heavily when cooked
  • Less expensive

Hotategai sushi recipe

There is a lot of scallop sushi recipe you can try out, and there is also a lot of easy and complex ways to make them. Not to worry though as the recipe I will be showing you is quite an easy one.

To prepare you will need the following ingredients:

  • 6 sea scallops (dry preferably)
  • 1 cup of sushi rice
  • Wasabi
  • Daikon sprouts (for garnish)

While for the sushi rice you will need:


The first step, over high heat, sauté your pan until all beads of water are evaporated. Then coat the bottom of the pan with the vegetable oil. Once that is done carefully add the scallops and sear for at least one minute until a golden-brown color appears on both sides, ensure they are not overcooked. Turn off the heat and remove the scallops from the pan and slice horizontally.

For the second step, with wet hands pick up ball-shaped sized of the sushi rice and mold gently in your right hand to form rectangular-shaped rice with rounded edges. While that is being done apply a little bit of pressure to the rice so it forms a sort strong base for the scallops.

Top the rectangular-shaped piece of rice with a small amount of wasabi and carefully top it off with a sliced piece of scallop or hotategai. And finally, garnish with daikon sprouts, serve and enjoy.

For the rice, simply boil in a pot of water that’s after washing it. Add the rest of the ingredients and allow to cook for about 30-35 minutes


Hotategai sushi is one of the best sushi I’ve had in a while and as you must have noticed by now, it is easy to prepare, and its ingredients are not so difficult to find. So, go get your ingredients and make your very own hotategai sushi and enjoy!

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Peter Allen

Peter Allen

Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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