Surf clam comes in season during the spring. Some of them are still good until summer if they are caught in the northern seas. The shells are black in the northern seas, and become cream colored as they are found towards the south.
Surf clam is an ordinary tasting clam. When it is raw, it is not as powerful in aroma nor has distinguished sweet flavor as other clams and the texture is not unique. For this reason, people in northern Japan say that surf clam is better cooked than consumed raw.
Northern Japan has many cow farms and butter is a popular ingredient. A favorite way to prepare clams is to lightly sauté it in butter. Lightly season with soy sauce. Medium rare is recommended. This way, the sweet taste of the surf clam can be enjoyed.
Northern surf clams are sweeter and preferred in sushi restaurants. The name hokkigai translates to “Back from the North” (hokki) and“Clam”(kai or gai).