Category: Ika (squid).
Season: From early August to spring.
Sumi-ika (meaning “ink squid”) begin to appear on sushi menus in August when they are called shin-ika (literally “new squid”) and are very young and small. They fetch high prices in the summer because they’ve been unavailable for a few months so customers are eager to enjoy them again. The sumiika season continues all the way into spring, when specimens are quite large and fat.
Sumi-ika can be served the traditional Edomae way (quickly boiled in a sake, sugar, and shoyu mixture, then brushed with tsume) or, if very fresh, can be served raw. In either case, it offers a sweet flavor and chewy texture that pairs well with vinegared rice.