Ark-Shell Clam [Akagai]


Japanese Name and Pronunciation:

akagai in Japanese


In Japanese cuisine, “Akagai” refers to the ark-shell clam or red clam, a prized shellfish known for its unique texture and sweet, briny taste. Akagai is a popular ingredient in various traditional Japanese dishes, particularly sushi and sashimi.

The peak season for Akagai typically occurs during the colder months, from late autumn to early spring. During this time, the clams are at their best in terms of size and flavor, making it an ideal period to enjoy this delectable seafood delicacy.

Akagai is caught in various regions like Tokyo Bay, Sanriku, Sendai, Mikawa Bay, Ise, Seto Inland Sea, and Ariake. However, the Akagai from Yuriage in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is particularly highly regarded and acclaimed as the best in Japan, commanding the highest prices in the market. Many sushi restaurants exclusively use Akagai from Yuriage. The flesh of Akagai displays a vibrant crimson hue, offering a supple texture, distinct sweetness, and refreshing briny aroma that sushi enthusiasts find irresistible.

Despite its exceptional qualities, the increasing majority of Akagai available in recent times comes from imports, particularly from South Korea and China. As a result, opportunities to savor domestically sourced Akagai are becoming scarce, with high-end sushi establishments being the primary places to enjoy this prized delicacy.

In Japanese cuisine, Akagai is highly valued for its natural sweetness and tender yet chewy texture. It is often served as “Akagai sashimi,” where the clams are thinly sliced and enjoyed raw, allowing diners to savor the fresh, delicate taste. Akagai sushi, or “Akagai nigiri,” is another popular preparation, where slices of the clam are placed on top of a small mound of vinegar-seasoned sushi rice.

The vibrant red color of Akagai adds a visual appeal to sushi platters and seafood dishes, making it a sought-after delicacy for both its taste and aesthetics.

Ark-Shell Clam Sushi [Akagai]
Ark-Shell Clam Sushi [Akagai]