How Fresh Can You Go? Eating Seafood That Still Moves
Most of you probably like your orange juice fresh, but mileage may vary when it comes to seafood. There was an uproar on reddit the other day when user AerialBreakfast posted a video of odori-don, a trendy Japanese dish in which seasoned soy sauce poured on a freshly prepared squid causes the meal to “dance.”
According to food blogger Loren Lam, ika-don (“squid rice bowl”) is a standard affair in Hakodate, the capital city of Oshima Subprefecture in Hokkaido, Japan. A freshly prepared squid is served in a bowl of sushi rice, alongside a selection of sashimi.
As it is, some are already squeamish when they think about squid being edible. Odori-don, also called ike ika-don, or “live squid rice bowl,” was first introduced as a “marketing gimmick” at the sushi restaurant Ikkatei Tabiji. Apparently, the novelty has caught on and is now offered at various restaurants throughout Hakodate.
Part of the squid’s head and insides are removed, but as to whether it’s still alive or not is in fact a difficult distinction to make. No one’s sure about the exact science of the moving squid — even an electrophysicist and chemical-biological engineer could not agree on reddit! — but it is more or less this: sodium potassium pumps maintain the ion gradient across the membrane in the organism. The addition of the high-sodium soy sauce to the outside of the membrane generates an action potential. Cue dancing squid.
Another Internet user was quick to follow with a dish submission of their own, one from their native Korea called sannakji. In a similarly raw fashion, small live octopus are sliced and served immediately, often lightly seasoned with sesame oil and sesame. The pieces, unfortunately, are often still squirming when served. As someone who has only just learned about sannakji, it’s eerie, frightening, and fascinating all at the same time.
Korean movie fans may be reminded of the iconic scene from Oldboy, during which Oh Dae-su eats a live octopus. It turns out that the scene was not computer generated, and four whole octopuses were used during its filming. When asked whether he felt sorry for the actor, director Park Chan-wook said he felt more sorry for the octopus.
Needless to say, many commenters were horrified, mostly at the thought of eating food that still moves, even if the movement from most of these dishes come from post-mortem spasms. When should we distinguish between dead or alive? Whatever the answer, it’s a reminder of how protected we are from what goes on during the preparation of our food.
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TAGS: dancing squid • ika-don • odori-don • Oldboy • raw food • Reddit • sannakji • seafood
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