British Columbia Recipes: Learn How To Make Onigara Yaki With British Columbia Spotted Shrimp From Chef Hidekazu Tojo

Hidekazu Tojo is one of Vancouver’s most famous culinary names.

The acclaimed chef has helped bring the art of Japanese cuisine to fame in the city.

With the lifting of indoor dining restrictions, Tojo’s restaurant just reopened its dining room yesterday (May 28) to welcome its guests again.

The timing is perfect as we are in the middle of British Columbia’s spotted shrimp season, which Tojo says “symbolizes the bounty and beauty of spring.”

Diners can now order on-site prepared shrimp sashimi and on-site shrimp dishes from Tojo’s seasonal omakase offerings at the restaurant.

For more than a decade, Tojo has purchased his British Columbia spotted shrimp from local fisherman Stewart McDonald, who sells his catch at Fisherman’s Wharf in False Creek.

In the video below, Tojo visits McDonald’s and talks about spotted shrimp.

For those who prefer to eat out, Tojo’s offers the Tojo Spotted Shrimp Kit ($ 88) for two including: half a pound of British Columbia Speckled Shrimp; vegetable chirashi; and seasonal rubber.

Another way to enjoy spotted shrimp is with onigari yaki, which is the Japanese technique for grilling butterfly shrimp and lobster. (Word oni means demon in Japanese because crustaceans resemble the horned creatures of Japanese mythology.)

Tojo-sama now presents a more generous option: Home cooks can try their hand at his method of grilling speckled shrimp.

Local fisherman Stewart McDonald with Chef Hidekazu Tojo at Fisherman’s Wharf in False Creek
Tojo’s Restaurant

Yield: serves two

1/2 lb live speckled shrimp
1 tablespoon of olive oil
salt and pepper

microgreens, coriander or spring onions
1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon of mirin
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of water
1 teaspoon of chili sauce (as sambal oelek)
1 teaspoon minced garlic


Butterfly shrimps:
With the shrimp belly side up, cut in the middle lengthwise, from the underside of the head to the tail.
Then cut from the underside of the head to the top of the head. Make sure you cut through the meat but not the shell.
Carefully open the shrimp.
Lightly season the flesh side of the shrimp with S&P.

Combine the ingredients for the drizzle in a small bowl and mix well.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat, about 45 seconds, just before the point of smoke.
Place the butterfly shrimp flesh side down.
Grill, about 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds, until the meat is no longer translucent and lightly browned. Do not overcook.
Go back to the hull side.
Pour a drizzle over the shrimp and let reduce for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Squeeze the lemon juice over the shrimp.

Arrange the shrimp on a serving platter.
Place the filling on top, drizzle additional sauce over the shrimp and serve.

Tojo’s Restaurant

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