Kuchiko (the ovaries of sea cucumbers) (くちこ)

Kuchiko are the ovaries of sea cucumbers. They are also called "konoko".

Summary

During the harsh winter between January and March, the sea cucumbers enter the breeding season and their ovaries grow enlarged; the name 'kuchiko' (literally, 'mouth child'), comes from the fact that the ovary is found near the mouth. Kuchiko is mainly produced in and around the Noto Peninsular.

Generally the kuchiko is dried in a flat triangle form and is known as Noto's premium delicacy.

Since it resembles the plectrum of a shamisen (a three-stringed Japanese banjo) when dried, it is also called 'bachiko' (literally, 'plectrum child'). Ovaries are dried in layers, and over a dozen kilograms of sea cucmbers are required to produce a single sheet, making it very expensive (several thousand yen per sheet, as of 2008).

Kuchiko can be eaten by itself, or toasted and placed in soup or warmed sake.

Usually, raw kuchiko is pickled and sold as salted kuchiko, but sometimes, the ovaries are simply removed from the sea cucumbers, bottled and sold 'raw'.

It is ideal as a side dish for sake.