Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, is surrounded by cold seawaters and known for producing pristine sea urchins, scallops, and crab, as well as the birthplace of miso ramen. But as the opening line on the Japan Trend Shop website announces: “Those guys up in Hokkaido will eat anything!”
This import Japanese market also offers curried sea lion for $23 a can. Described as “arguably one of Japan’s most unconventional dishes” and a “conversation piece,” this 14.4 oz can features meat from the Steller species of sea lions from the Northern Pacific, whose male species can grow up to 10 feet long. The ad copy describes its taste as “hard to describe… strong and fish-like,” and there’s enough spicy curried sea lion for two servings.
Perhaps sea lion is a bit extreme for your culinary sensibilities. How about spotted seal curry from Sapporo, even more prized at $35 a can? The taste is once again described as “strong… fishy… acquired taste… but it certainly goes well with the burn of the curry.”
You might be budget-conscious and want to buy in bulk: Here’s a 12-can set of Baleen whales (known at one point as “marine beef”) marinated in soy sauce and ginger for a mere $151. Even more prized from the whale family is sunoko, meat that comes from the base of the flipper and known for its collagen-rich fatty texture. For those concerned about its environmental implications, rest assured! “The meat contained in this product,” the ad copy says, “comes from animals that have been killed as part of scientific research.” Kawaii!
More options: canned Moray eels for $23, like eating Flotsam and Jetsam from The Little Mermaid! (“This spotted sea gangster… [has] a thick… gelatinous texture.”) Or curried bear meat for $23 (“rather dense and fatty”). Most expensive of all is curried wild Ezo deer for $39 (“very friendly on the palate, even for those not accustomed to game”).
Note: Shipping to the U.S. costs nearly as much as the product itself, starting at $25 for a single can. But you try finding curried sea lion at Whole Foods for less than $50.