How to Prepare Botanebi (ぼたんえび) for Nigiri Sushi


In season during autumn and spring, Botanebi, or Pandelus Nipponesis, are shrimp that live at depths between 300 to 500 metres. The highest quality Botanebi are caught in the cold waters of Hokkaido, where they taste the sweetest.

Just like Amaebi, Botanebi are sweet and typically served raw as nigiri. Similarly, they start off as males and ultimately change sex into females in order to maximise their reproductive potential. The same method as Amaebi can be used to determine their freshness. Their flesh should be firm and not slimy. Furthermore, their head should be pinkish-red with no black spots, with the head of the prawn becoming darker and darker as the shrimp goes bad.

The last Botanebi at the bottom is less fresh than the rest as can be seen from the darker head.

Botanebi is large enough to be served on a single nigiri but is butterflied along the back, allowing it to spread out and coat the rice. This is in contrast to Kuruma ebi, which is cut along the front. This is because Kuruma ebi is cooked, which means the flesh has tightened. If cut from the back like Botanebi, the flesh would not spread out.

Preperation of Botanebi (ぼたんえび):


Begin by removing the head of the shrimp.


Peel away the shell but leave on the tail end for presentation.


Make a small cut along the back of the shrimp, butterflying it in order to allow it to spread over the rice.


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