Sea pineapple…! – ほや[Hoya]

Sea pineapple. This sound might let you imagine something sweet. But it’s seafood.

Hoya doesn’t belong to fish or seaweed, but it’s said something similar to chordate. The English name of Hoya is “Sea squirt” actually, but it’s called “海のパイナップル(Sea Pineapple)” because the shape looks like pineapple. Sea pineapple sounds more tasty food, so I call it sea pineapple when I explain about Hoya.

You will see it during spring to autumn, especially in Hokkaido and Tohoku region in Japan. The best season is from May to August. If you want to try it as your first time, I highly recommend to try it in best season.

You can taste sweetness, salty, umami, little bitterness and astringency (called “egumi”) in it. But the bitterness and the unique smell would be stronger if it’s not fresh. That’s why you either like or hate this. Please try it in the area close to the fishing port, then you can get the right one for the first try.

The Ishinomaki fishing port is one of famous ports for Hoya producing. Ishinomaki is north east of Miyagi. (The area in red circle) You can go there by JR train. It takes about 1.5 hour from Sendai station.
Hoya and Japanese sake. Hoya is one of good pairing food for sake.

You can taste Hoya in several kinds cooking styles like row (sashimi style), boiled, grilled, smoked, or fried. I recommend Hoya sashimi for the first try if you are okay with sashimi. It has umami taste more than other recipes.

Plus, there’s a tip for you to enjoy it. I recommend to drink water after eating Hoya. You would taste more umami and sweetness.

There are many izakaya (Japanese styled bars/restaurants) serve Hoya in Miyagi even though you cannot go to Ishinomaki.

I hope you have a fun and great experience with Hoya!

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