Shirako – A Tasty Sack of Fish Sperm
Shirako is a slippery, soft white food that is a popular winter delicacy in Japan. It is easily recognizable due to its intestinal-like nature. In English we refer to it as milt, the sperm-filled reproductive gland of a male fish. The male genitalia of fish when it contains the sperm, including the seminal fluid. We’re talking sperm sac. We’re talking semen. The stuff that is used to fertilize fish roe, the egg-laden ovary of a fish.
It is the seminal fluid of fish, mollusks, and other water-dwelling animals who reproduce by spraying this fluid, which contains the sperm, onto roe (fish eggs). A bizarre morsel of Japanese culinary strangeness included on the infamous 10 Weird Japanese Foods list.
A Japanese Delicacy
In Japanese cuisine shirako is considered a delicacy. Shirako (白子) translates into English as ‘white children’. It is harvested from fish such as cod (tara), anglerfish (anko), monkfish, and sometimes pufferfish (fugu). Most types of fish seminal fluid are in season during winter. The sperm sac is said to melt in the mouth like butter. It can be eaten both raw and cooked but this depends on individual tastes. It is a popular dish at most izakaya (Japanese pubs) and sushi bars. You can even pick it up in your local supermarket.
Shirako is most accurately likened to pork brains, yet with a lighter, finer texture. Steamed, shirako is as soft as an egg custard; pan- or deep-fried, the surface crisps up while the interior remains soft and creamy. The taste of shirako is subtle; there’s a slight sweetness and just the faintest hint of its oceanic roots.
A Personal Encounter With Fish Ejaculate
An accidental dining experience in Japan involving shirako or fish sperm is not an uncommon story. It could happen to anyone. So I keep telling myself.
Celebrating in Tokyo one evening with a few Japanese colleagues I was excited to get out and try some Japanese delicacies under the guidance of the locals. A reservation was made at an izakaya, a traditional Japanese drinking establishment which also serves food to accompany the drinks.
We arrived and there were no seats. Only a tatami mat on the floor. I knew that I was up for a posture-breaking flexibility challenge. My colleagues quickly assumed a comfortable seated position as if they were yoga masters as I desperately struggled to get comfortable with my limbs inappropriately hanging all over the place.
As we pondered over the menu I decided that I did not want to be an imposition, so I relinquished responsibility of the menu selection to my more experienced Japanese hosts. These guys accepted the task with sinister smirks upon their faces. The first dish to arrive was bowl of tentacles. I had an internal battle saying “Reject the tentacles and offend my hosts or eat the tentacles and offend them by vomiting on the table?”. “Reject the Tentacles” won. However, there was much disappointment on the faces of my friends so I committed to eat the next dish to arrive.
The next dish arrived. It was a creamy, white, gooey substance. The texture was similar to that of a brain, it had little red blood vessels. I asked what it was but the Japanese guys would not say. They kept reminding me that I was committed to eat the next dish to arrive… and there it was. I was obligated. There was no turning back. I was on the hook.
Reluctantly I picked up my chopsticks and stared deeply at the creamy, white, gooey brain substance that laid before me. There was a chant coming from the rest of the group – Ikki, ikki, ikki, ikki… which conveniently translates as Go, go, go, go… I dug my chopsticks in, ripped the goo out and threw it to the back of my mouth. Reporting a strange sensation of what appeared to be of a brain texture was in fact a membrane of some kind. It felt like the membrane had exploded in my mouth and this oozing liquidy substance poured out.
My work mates were in hysterics rolling around on the tatami mat. Finally, one of them managed to regain composure to tell me what it was.
“Well, what you have just eaten is a Japanese delicacy called shirako. It is the sack inside of a fish that contains the fishes sperm. So, you have just eaten the equivalent to fish testicles.”
I stared deeply into space at the shock of the news just broken to me whilst the Japanese guys feasted happily on the remaining shirako.
If you think that this is weird then check out 10 Weird Japanese Foods for more bizarre morsels of Japanese culinary strangeness such as raw horse meat, nattō, grasshoppers, fugu and more. If you are not that adventurous, then check out 10 Cool Japanese Foods for a delicious selection of ten tasty morsels of Japanese culinary goodness such as yakitori, sukiyaki, ramen, yakiniku, kushikatsu and more.
The “Thinkopad” is a 3D mouse pad featuring what appears to be a scantily clad anime ladyboy. The “Thinkopad” allows users to rest their wrists on the ergonomically-positioned silicone gonads of a cartoon shemale. The gel in the mouse pad’s wrist rest is said to reduce wrist fatigue and protect the wrist joint after the prolonged use of the mouse. “Thinkopad” is pronounced “chinkopad”, which incidentally sounds like “penis pad” in Japanese. Optimum usage is just after an injection of syringe lotion and an insertion of a God Finger.
Ladyboys (aka Kathoeys)
A ladyboy (also known as “kathoey” – a Thai term) refers to a transgender or an effeminate gay male usually from Southeast Asia – namely Thailand and The Philippines. The term can refer to males who exhibit varying degrees of femininity. Many ladyboys dress as women and undergo “feminising” medical procedures such as breast implants, hormones, silicone injections, or Adam’s apple reductions. Others may wear makeup and use feminine pronouns, but dress as men, and are closer to the Western category of effeminate gay man than transgender.
Austin “Danger” Powers
Getting caught at customs with one of these mouse pads in your bag would kind of be similar to the scene below from Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. In this scene Austin “Danger” Powers denies owning a Swedish-made penis enlarger. Yeah, baby, yeah! One book, “Swedish-made Penis Enlargers And Me: This Sort of Thing Is My Bag Baby”, by Austin Powers.
The Hangover Part II
The mouse pad also reminds me of the scene below from the movie The Hangover Part II. In this scene the Wolfpack first met Yasmin Lee‘s character Kimmy the Ladyboy in the dressing room of a go go bar in Bangkok. Stu the groom (played by Ed Helms) has no recollection of a wild raunchy night, thanks to a potent drug induced haze. He freaks out when Kimmy reveals that they had indulged in what she was indicating to be a romantic sexual encounter. “It was beautiful we climaxed at the same time”.
There’s a reason they call it Bangkok…
Japanese Matsuri – Festivals and Celebrations
Japanese matsuri are traditional festive occasions. Every year a bizarre festival worshiping the penis takes place in Japan. Shinto fertility festivals held annually are penis-venerating celebrations that involve phallic processions and penis parades. Japan hosts a number of unusual and notorious festivals including the Kanamara Matsuri and the Hōnen Matsuri.
The image below is from a penis festival. There is a dude hidden in the photo. Let’s call him Waldo-kun. He is camouflaged in the crowd of G-string wearing, half-naked girls participating in the penis parade phallic procession. This photo is a gay test. A test to explore your sexual orientation. How long does it take you to spot Waldo-kun?
Where’s Waldo? is a series of children’s books created by British illustrator Martin Handford. It is also published as Where’s Wally?. The books consist of a series of detailed double-page spread illustrations. The illustrations depict dozens or more people doing a variety of amusing things at a given location. Readers are challenged to find a character named Waldo hidden in the group. Waldo’s distinctive red-and-white striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses make him slightly easier to recognise. Many illustrations contain “red herrings” involving deceptive use of red-and-white striped objects.
More On Phallus Festivals
The embedded video below features Lonely Planet author and fearless festival hunter Ray Bartlett. He travels deep into the heart of suburban Japan for a peek at some of the world’s largest… penises, uncovering one of the country’s oldest and most venerable fertility festivals. Hounen Matsuri, in Komaki, Japan, holds this yearly celebration to ensure bountiful harvests and plenty of offspring in the coming years. Get ready to giggle, gawk, or admire as the penis procession unfolds. Or ask the gods to grant your wish by writing on a phallic prayer board.