Rumor has it that in Aomori Prefecture there exists a soft-served ice cream made with the flavor of hotate (Yesso scallop), a widely eaten shellfish in Japan. While hotate goes great with a little dab of wasabi, it’s hard to image the scallop’s taste blending well with ice cream.
Without hesitating, our reporter and food lover Usagi caught the next northbound train to the Aomori Prefecture Tourist Center ASPM to see what scallop ice cream had to offer.
Usagi entered the triangular building (shaped like an “A” for “Aomori”) and easily found the ice cream counter among the various souvenir vendors on the first floor. There were large blue flags which read “Hotate Soft Cream” and a sign over the counter with “Nation’s First; Made with Hotate Extract; Hotate Soft Cream; On Sale.”
The ice cream is sold for 200 yen (US$2) each and served in your choice of cone or cup. There was another sign by the register that read: “The saltiness and sweetness of scallops is the best match for fresh milk.”
Usagi clung to that notion as she went in for the first lick. Sure enough it tasted like the shellfish, and we don’t mean that in a “scallop flavoring” way; it felt like she was eating real hotate. The taste was apparently achieved by blending hotate extract in with the milk before making ice cream with it, so this is the real thing!
That description probably sounds terrible to a lot of people, but Usagi was surprised at how amazingly well it worked out. The ice cream definitely tasted like scallops but the taste wasn’t so overpowering that you’d forget you were eating ice cream. The two foods achieved a yin-yang effect, co-existing in harmony. It was salty, sweet and delicious.
In conclusion, you might expect scallop flavored ice cream to be simply a novelty joke food. Something that tastes awful but you can tell your friends about after visiting Aomori. However, the makers of Hotate Soft Cream managed to create a magically delicious treat out of two unsuspecting foods, and we can safely say that this is a treat you should definitely try if you find yourself in Honshu’s northernmost prefecture.
▼ The ice cream was sold in scallop, vanilla, or mixed flavors.
[ Read in Japanese ]