What are Hokkaido Scallops?

scallops, food, seafood-4709349.jpg

Whether you have shopped online or at physical supermarkets, you may have come across a seafood product known as Hokkaido Scallops. Have you ever wondered what Hokkaido Scallops are and would you like to find out more about them? We will be exploring this interesting seafood product together. Shall we begin our journey?

What are Hokkaido Scallops?

First off, let us understand what Hokkaido Scallops are:

  • Hokkaido Scallops are also known as Yesso Scallops.
  • Hokkaido Scallops belong to a family of bivalve sea creatures. The scientific name for that family of bivalves is Pictinidae.
  • As its name implies, Hokkaido Scallops are found off the coasts of Hokkaido Japan.

Are Hokkaido Scallops the same as Japanese Scallops?

We now move on to the question of whether or not Hokkaido Scallops are the same as Japanese Scallops:

  • While Hokkaido Scallops are named due to where they are found in Japan, these scallops are also found in other parts of Japan. They include places such as the Tohoku region as well as Aomori Prefecture.
  • As such, with regards to the question of whether Hokkaido Scallops are the same as Japanese Scallops, it can be said that they are the same, with a difference being the part of Japan that these Scallops come from.

Are Hokkaido Scallops exclusively found in Japan?

With regards to the question of whether or not Hokkaido Scallops are found exclusively in Japan, Hokkaido Scallops are also found near Russia. Furthermore, due to aquaculture, Hokkaido/Japanese Scallops are being cultivated in countries such as China, South Korea, Canada and Morocco.

What makes Hokkaido Scallops unique?

This then leads us to another question regarding what makes Hokkaido Scallops unique. According to some, it is said that Hokkaido Scallops are unique due to being especially fleshy. This attribute makes it a very renowned seafood product especially to seafood connoisseurs. 

How are Hokkaido Scallops farmed?

We shall now discuss how Hokkaido Scallops are generally farmed:

  • Wild Hokkaido Scallops are first collected as Spat(Scallop spawn) in the season of Spring (Between the months of March and June) with the help of Spat Collectors that are either monofilament Onion bags or cone shaped plates that are covered by nets.
  • Generally, the Scallop Spat settles in these collectors about 30 to 40 days after spawning.
  • The amount of Scallop Spat collected depends on the depth at which the Spat Collector is lowered at. Numbers can range from 300 to 1500 or more.
  • The optimum temperature for the growth of the Scallop Spat is about 15 degrees Celsius/59 Fahrenheit.
  • The Scallop Spat are then moved from the Spat Collectors after 3 months when their shells measure up to 10 millimetres in height to be kept in Pearl Net Nurseries.
  • The young Scallops are then left to grow in two ways.
  • The first way is through the use of suspended Pearl Nets called Suspension Culture.
  • About 15 to 20 Scallops can be held in these suspended Pearl Nets (When the shells of these Scallops have grown to about 30 millimetres in height). When Scallop shells have grown to about 70 millimetres they will typically be kept in sets of up to 7 Scallops per Pearl Net. 
  • The Scallops will be considered ready for harvest when their shells have grown to 100 millimetres in height. It takes about 2 to 3 years from being taken from the Spat Collectors for Scallops to be grown to harvest size.
  • At times they can be harvested earlier depending on factors such as temperature and their food supply.
  • In Suspension Culture, Scallops are either hung horizontally in shallow water or vertically in slightly deeper water when they are approaching the harvest size of 100 millimetres.
  • The other method that is used to farm Scallops is called Bottom Culture.
  • In the case of Bottom Culture, the Scallops are kept in shallow water at varying depths depending on the height of the shells.
  • Scallops nurtured through the Bottom Culture method take a year longer to be harvest ready than Scallops grown through Suspension Culture.

Which countries are major producers of Hokkaido Scallops?

As for the question on which countries are major producers of Hokkaido Scallops, they include countries such as Japan, China, and Russia. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, an average of over 200 000 tonnes of Hokkaido Scallops are produced a year. At times it has been reported that Hokkaido produces about 500 000 tonnes of Scallops a year. 

Which countries are major consumers of Hokkaido Scallops?

In terms of the countries that are major consumers of Hokkaido Scallops, they include China, Europe, South-East Asia and North America to name a few regions. A major reason for their demand for Hokkaido Scallops is due to their quality.

Names for Hokkaido Scallops in different languages

With regards to the names of Hokkaido Scallops, there are a variety of names for them in different languages. We shall take a look at some of them in the following table.

Chinese (Simplified)北海道扇贝 (Běihǎidào shànbèi) or 日本扇贝 (Rìběn shànbèi)
MalayKerang Hokkaido or Kerang Jepang
FrenchPétoncles d’Hokkaido or Pétoncle du Japon
SpanishVieiras de Hokkaido or Vieira japonesa
PortugueseVieiras de Hokkaido or Vieiras japonesas


Let us now recap what we have discussed so far.

What we have learnt
1. We discovered what Hokkaido Scallops were.
2. We learnt that there was essentially no difference between Hokkaido and Japanese Scallops other than the fact that Hokkaido Scallops were so named because they were found in Hokkaido.
3. We learnt about what makes Hokkaido Scallops unique.
4. We learnt about how Hokkaido Scallops are farmed.
5. We discovered which countries and regions were major producers and consumers of Hokkaido Scallops.
6. We discovered other names for Hokkaido Scallops in different languages.

In conclusion

As we draw to a close on our adventure, you may have realised just how fascinating, Hokkaido Scallops are as a seafood item. Hopefully this would have deepened your appreciation for Hokkaido Scallops. Till our next adventure, take care and enjoy your food on more than one level both intellectually and gastronomically.

Scroll to Top