by Jessica Thompson for USA TODAY 10Best

Fish sperm is a delicacy in Japan – this is how to eat it

Fish sperm (or milt) is extracted in its entirety from the fish, and looks like a human brain. Depending on the level of seminal fluid contained in the sac, the color ranges from translucent and whitish with a pink hue to opaque and white as snow.

In what sounds like a twisted chauvinistic joke – but is, in fact, entirely real – it’s believed to be good for the skin and have anti-aging properties, with high levels of protein, and vitamins B12 and D.

At first taste, it's tepid, disconcertingly creamy and slightly fishy. Fans describe this as a "melting taste," "the sweetness with sea air" and "sensual umami."

Considering other marine reproductive organs – caviar (fish eggs) and uni (sea urchin gonads) – are widely popular global delicacies, why not try fish sperm? Here’s how to sample it if you visit Japan in winter...


This is recommended, especially for shirako noobs, because anything deep fried in batter is bound to be infinitely more approachable. It’s crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside.


It generally comes served with grated daikon, ponzu (a citrus and soy sauce dressing) and spring onion. Keep a sake (or a heated kanzake given the time of year) close by to wash it down as necessary.


Gunkanmaki (battleship sushi) is the variety made up of a pressed rice ball wrapped with nori to make a little “ship,” and then topped with various ingredients. It’s the perfect vehicle for the sticky mess that is shirako.

Nabe (hotpot)

Winter is hotpot season in Japan, and they come in many different varieties – miso and oyster, kimchi and pork, and shirako.

Yakimono (grilled)

Shirako can also be prepared grill-top, by cooking it over binchotan charcoal, giving the sac a tightness and the interior a velvety, pudding-like texture.

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