GYOREN HOKKO

FAQ

Questions about dried scallops

  • Q.What are the raw materials?

    A.Scallops from Hokkaido and salt.

  • Q.White powdering has appeared on the surfaces of the dried scallops. Is this mold?

    A.White powdering is due to amino acid and salt ejected out from inside the scallops. This appears if dried scallops are stored in a hot and humid location, so please keep in the refrigerator. Also, this powdering is harmless. However, there are white molds that look similar, so check carefully before eating.

  • Q.The color of scallops has darkened (blackened). Can they still be eaten?

    A.This is browning. The scallops are still edible, but the characteristic smell of dried shellfish may have increased, so soak them in water and then cook them in a meal to enjoy their wonderful flavor.

  • Q.There are some red/orange scallops mixed in – what are they?

    A.These are known as aka-dama (red ball). Their color comes from carotenoid, a pigment amply found in carrots. A set percentage of scallops harvested each year have this color, yet it is not known why. However, the flavor and texture are exactly the same as those of regular scallops.

  • Q.Where are the scallops from exactly? Also, does quality and flavor vary depending on place of origin?

    A.Our scallops are harvested and processed in Hokkaido, along the coastal region of the Okhotsk Sea. We handle scallops from various locations, but they are all processed (turned into products) in accordance with the unified specifications prescribed by Hokkaido Gyoren (Hokkaido Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations). Moreover, all of our products that have been processed in Hokkaido have had to receive an inspection by Hokkaido Gyoren inspectors, which is how we maintain uniform quality of our products.

  • Q.Could you please explain the differences between Hokkaido scallops and Aomori ones?

    A.While Aomori farming involves suspending shells on ropes from the sea surface (hanging aquaculture), Hokkaido scallops are produced by sowing juvenile fries on the seabed (bottom culture), where they grow for four years in the cold waters of the Okhotsk Sea, gaining a strong flavor and firm meat in readiness for processing into dried scallops.

  • Q.Could you please explain the differences between Hokkaido scallops and Chinese one?

    A.The water content percentage of Hokkaido scallops is up to 16%, whereas it is around 25% in Chinese scallops. Excessive water content diminishes quality (causes browning) and causes outbreaks of mold. Also, as farming methods, harvesting age and production specifications, differ in China, there are big differences in size, flavor and quality.

  • Q.What is the optimum temperature range for storing dried scallops?

    A.We recommend storing dried scallops at between 0 to 5°C in order to maintain product quality. Please store in a refrigerator as storage at room temperature may lead to discoloring (browning) and surfacing of white powdering (a flavor component).

  • Q.What are the sizes, grades and specifications (standards)?

    A.These are used to set qualities and grades for scallops in terms of attractive shape, presence or absence of mold, meat quality, coloring and aroma. See the “Size” and “Qualities & Grades” tables for details.

    [Dried Scallop Specifications]
  • Q.How are your dried scallops manufactured/processed?

    A.Great care is taken to grow young shellfish in scallop grounds along the coastal regions of Hokkaido, with Hokkaido’s seawaters divided into four seabed sections to let scallops grow slowly to big sizes over 4 years in a stable, sustainable form of farming. See “Dried Scallop Processing” for details.

    [Dried Scallop Processing]
  • Q.Who decides the grades and how do they do it?

    A.Grades are determined in grading inspections conducted by inspectors from Hokkaido Gyoren (Hokkaido Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations), a trusted brand. Products are labeled with grading cards and stamped with seals as proof of inspection.

    [About Inspection Marks]
  • Q.Do you have measures to counter shellfish toxin?

    A.Hokkaido Gyoren (Hokkaido Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations) conducts strict inspections on our products, awarding them safety certificates denoting safety related to shellfish toxin, such as origin (growing location) and dates of harvest and manufacturing/processing.

    [About Safety Certificate]
  • Q.Could you please explain how scallops are soaked to prepare them for use?

    A.There are two methods, soaking and microwaving. Both are easy, so please try the methods out!

    [Soaking Dried Scallops]
  • Q.Could you please tell me about the elements of dried scallops?

    A.Dried scallop elements include betaine, taurine and selenium. Betaine promotes bile production together with lipid metabolism while also supposedly working to reduce cholesterol. Betaine is a nitrogen compound belonging to the amino acid system, which, among other benefits, means is considered to be capable of improving the function of the liver. It is one of the so called “flavor ingredients”. Taurine is said to help recovery from eyestrain and lower blood pressure through relaxation of the sympathetic nervous system. It also conceivably capable of working to detoxify the liver, enhance cardiac function and prevent diabetes mellitus and arteriosclerosis. It is also considered to work to lower cholesterol in the blood by promoting cholesterol metabolism and encouraging cholesterol excretion from that metabolism process. Taurine is a member of the amino acid family, and is one of the flavor elements. Selenium is said to have the power to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, which is believed to be the case because the intake of selenium together with antioxidants, such as vitamin E, further increases suppression of cancer. It supposedly removes active oxygen and inhibits the generation of lipid peroxide. It is a member of the mineral family.

  • Q.When did the production of dried scallops begin approximately?

    A.In recent years, it has become popular to use just shiro-boshi, or white-dried scallops, to make this product. But, back in the Edo period, fishmongers sold dried scallops with the string and digestive gland still attached, which were known as kuro-boshi (black-dried scallops). By the time the Meiji period was underway, black-dried scallops gradually gave way to white-dried ones. Anyway, in the Edo period, dried fish/shellfish products were important items in trade with the Ming and Qing dynasties of China. In particular, such was the importance of trade in shark fins, dried sea cucumbers and dried abalone, that they were called “tawaramono sanhin” (three luxury marine products). And, on top of those three luxury marine products, trade goods, such as konbu and dried scallops were also shipped to China from Japan.

Questions About Konbu

  • Q.There is white powder on the surface of the konbu. Is it mold?

    A.The white powder found on the surface of konbu is a konbu flavor component called mannitol. However, if you are reusing the product sometime after its packaging was first opened, mold may have formed, depending on storage conditions, so always check the product carefully before eating.

  • Q.There are semitransparent round globs on the konbu surface. What are they?

    A.They are fucoidan, a slimy component found in copious amounts in konbu and brown algae. It emerges from scratches on the surface of konbu – in other words, a konbu component that surfaces. And, as it is just a konbu component, the konbu is still good to use.

  • Q.There are various types of konbu, and I do not know the differences between them, so could you please tell me which konbu taste good?

    A.There are konbu products that are suited to making dashi (soup stock), there are others suited to uses in dishes, such as tsukudani (savory preserve), so konbu products are suited to some uses and not to others, but there is nothing to choose between them in terms of origin (production location) and types. Indeed, in certain regions, there are established food cultures that prefers certain types of konbu. However, whatever the konbu, it can be used to make a dashi. And, moreover, they all make tasty treats to eat, so please find the konbu that suits your tastebuds.

  • Q.Why does shape, color and length of konbu differ among the same brand?

    A.The color, luster, thickness, length and other such things pertaining to konbu are graded. And, as the grades used vary according to the manufacturer, the shape, color and length differ among even the same brand.

  • Q.Could you please explain how to make a dashi (soup stock) from konbu?

    A.There are three kinds of stock: “cold-water dashi”, “hot-water dashi” and “1st-boiling dashi”. All three are easy, so please give them a go!

    [Click here to find out about konbu stock preparations]
  • Q.Could you tell me how to use konbu after it has been used to prepare dashi?

    A.Once its role in preparing soup stock is over, konbu can be used in various dishes, such as tsukudani (savory preserve) and salads, as there are still plenty of varied nutrients left in it. Why not build up a sizeable stock in your freezer, and then use it to make konbu tsukudani and salads!

  • Q.How come the soup stock element of konbu doesn’t wash out in the ocean?

    A.Because konbu cell membranes are selectively permeable. A cell membrane separates the inside from the outside. All organisms have such a system, not just konbu. Depending on the cell membrane, things like water and oxygen can permeate through freely in accordance with osmotic pressure and concentration gradient, but glutamic acid (amino acid) cannot permeate through freely. Hence, while konbu is growing in the sea, it does not release its stock flavoring.

  • Q.Why does konbu become slimy?

    A.This is due to alginic acid and fucoidan, two components, copiously contained in konbu, that by nature become slimy when they come into contact with water. As an aside, when the stone walls of Osaka Castle were being built long ago, wetted konbu was apparently used to reduce friction when giant stones were being dragged to the castle.

  • Q.Why has the dashi (soup stock) I have made turned cloudy white?

    A.There are several reasons for this. One possibility is a large amount of mannitol coating the surface of the konbu, which has not completely dissolved, and is visible in a cloudy white form. Another is the astringent component tannin, large amounts of which are contained in konbu, that looks cloudy when it forms froth on the surface of dashi. Additionally, if the cloudiness is seen when konbu and dried bonito shavings are being used together to make a stock, it could be due to protein in the bonito shavings. Whatever the cause, the stock is perfectly safe to use and eat.

  • Q.Why has the dashi I have made turned a brownish color?

    A.Usually, konbu has two coloring pigments: carotenoid pigment (brownish coloring) and chlorophyll pigment (greenish coloring). And when konbu contains a lot of carotenoid pigment, it may rarely produce a reddish color when used to make dashi. Also, if there is oil on the pot, dashi may look reddish. Either way, the stock is perfectly safe to use and eat.

  • Q.Why does the water turn a purplish color when I make dashi with konbu?

    A.This is due to an iodine-starch reaction. It is a phenomenon that occurs when chlorine-rich tap water permeates the konbu (containing iodine) and starch from the cook’s hands or foods, such as rice, noodle, potato and sweet potato, that have adhered to the pot. There is nothing wrong with the quality of the konbu. indeed, the purple color will disappear if heating is continued.

Questions About Dried Abalones and Dried Sea Cucumbers

  • Q.Where are your abalones from (place of origin)?

    A.All of our dried abalone products are produced using abalones from Iwate prefecture. In China, this abalone is known as the “good luck abalone”.

  • Q.What is the white powder on the surface of dried abalones?

    A.This white powdering is due to amino acid and chlorine spouting out from inside the dried abalone. It is not harmful to humans. This powdering is harmless. However, there are white molds that look similar, so check carefully before eating.

  • Q.On the dried abalone size chart, sizes are given as 〇〇 頭 (to). What does this “to” mean?

    A.In Asia, especially in regions that consume abalones, like Hong Kong and China, abalones are counted as “to”, so the number of “to” is the number of abalones in a 600g container.

  • Q.Where are your products processed?

    A.All processing from primary to final (packing) is undertaken in Japan.

  • Q.Where are your sea cucumbers from (place of origin)?

    A.The majority of our sea cucumbers come from Hokkaido. We also handle some harvested in western Japan. These are known as “Kansai abalone”. However, depending on received shipments, we may also handle sea cucumbers from other production locations (origins).

  • Q.Is there a way of distinguishing between sea cucumbers from Hokkaido and those from Kansai?

    A.There shaped differently.
    Sea cucumbers from Hokkaido have numerous large papillae (warts),
    Sea cucumbers from Kansai have just a few smallish papillae (warts). Also, compared to sea cucumbers from Hokkaido, many of the Kansai ones are big in size.

  • Q.Which is tastier, a sea cucumber from the Hokkaido or one from Kansai?

    A.Both are delicious. Sea cucumbers are very gelatinous, so when eaten raw, they have a rubbery texture, but when dried ones are restored (soaked in water), they become soft and melt in the mouth. Generally, thickset sea cucumbers are said to be tasty.

Questions About Seaweed and Other Dried Seafood Products

  • Q.How heavy does wakame seaweed become when soaked in water?

    A.In weight ratio terms it increases by about tenfold.

  • Q.There seem to be whitish hairs on the surface of wakame seaweed. What are they?

    A.These follicles are organs unique to wakame, they exist on all types of wakame seaweed. Most of them are removed in production processes, but they may remain on products. You do not have to do anything about them as they are perfectly safe to eat.

  • Q.Could you please tell me where your wakame mostly comes from (origin)?

    A.Our wakame seaweed mostly comes from the Sanriku region (Iwate and Miyagi prefectures), Naruto (Tokushima prefecture) and Ise (Mie prefecture).

  • Q.How heavy does hijiki (edible brown algae) become when soaked in water?

    A.In weight ratio terms it increases by about eightfold.

  • Q.There are hijiki sprouts (mehijiki) and stems (nagahijiki). How do they differ?

    A.Sprouts are the fine, leafy part of hijiki (also known as komehijiki [rice hijiki] because the sprouts look like rice grains) and stems are the shoot parts of hijiki and are called nagahijiki (long hijiki) because of their length. Sprouts are known for their crispy texture and stems for their chewy texture.

  • Q.Could you please tell me where your hijiki(edible brown algae) are from (origin)?

    A.Our hijiki is mostly from Kyushu, Ehime prefecture and Mie prefecture.

  • Q.Your niboshi (small dried sardines) are sold in various sizes. Could you please tell me the usages of each size?

    A.Various types of fish are sold as niboshi, but here we will refer to anchovies in giving our answer. For use in preparing dashi (soup stock), there are three types, large (10cm or longer), medium (7-9cm) and small (4-6cm). Large and medium anchovies produce a rich flavored dashi, while small ones produce a light flavored dashi.
    Sizes other than those indicated above are known as baby sardines, or “chirimen” and “kaeri”. These are sold to be eaten as snacks just as they are. Specifically, chirimen are eaten as snacks or used to prepare chirimen-jako (dried young sardines) and kaeri are eaten as snacks or used to make dashi (soup stock).

  • Q.Why has the surface of your dried squid become whitish?

    A.The savory flavoring component of the squid has come to the surface. It is perfectly safe to use (eat).

Other Questions

  • Q.Can products beyond the “best before date” still be eaten?

    A.The “best before date” denotes the period in which the product tastes good when eaten, it does not mean that food should not be eaten. However, under usual home storage conditions, maintaining products at their best is difficult, so it is probably best not to eat products beyond the “best before date”.

  • Q.About Storing Dried Seafood Products

    A.Please keep dried seafood products out of direct sunlight and high temperatures/humidity. And, while it is okay to store them at room temperature, we recommend refrigeration for long-term storage.

  • Q.Could you please tell me how your products can be eaten?

    A.Please see our recipe page for details.

    [Gyoren Hokko Recommended Recipe]
  • Q.About Storing Frozen Products

    A.Frozen products are best stored at -18℃ or lower. Home freezers tend to frost up products easily, so please use (eat) the product as soon as possible.

  • Q.Is it possible to purchase products from you directly?

    A.We recommend that you use our online shop to make direct purchases.

    [Click here for the online shop]
  • Q.I would like to do some business with your company. What should I do?

    A.Please contact us using the inquiry form.

    [Inquiry Form]

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