As we had been gorging ourselves on so much seafood in Sapporo we decided a visit to Nijo Seafood Markets was in order to really see what was on offer in Hokkaido. I was not disappointed.
The stalls were amazing, there were ebony urchins with sharp spines, fat scallops and happy clams poking their tongues out at their predicament, unaware of just how delicious they are going to be. Crabs of all shapes and sizes, some already boiled traffic light red, huddling their claws and legs into their bodies against the chill of their ice beds, others live and tapping their triple dot, triple dash, triple dot against the glass of the tank.
A happy vendor with a cheerful smile, greets me with free samples, insisting I try the sweet juicy little sucker on the slab before me. Freshly caught and boiled that morning, he's a cute little spiny crab, that despite being cooked has retained quite a greenish hue to his shell. He is very very cute.
Cute and delicious.
I quickly devour the delectable flesh from the proffered shell. The vendor-man then asks if we have ever tasted Hokkaido urchin. Having tried (and not particularly liked) urchin before, I was hesitant, but the cheery little man was not to be deterred, so we let him spoon the ochre coloured segments into our hands.
It was not what I expected.
It was not what I had tried before.
This was something else.
The yellow segments were glorious and sweet, with a mollusc-like flavour and a slightly grainy almost mustardy texture.
With that we bid our happy vendor-man goodbye, I wanted to buy the entire contents of his stall, but as it was, we had no kitchen or home to take the wares back to, so we had to leave him with only our gratitude for my new found adoration of urchin.