04 August 2011


The "dancing squid" on this dish appears is dead; the motion of the tentacles is simply a biologic response of the neurons to the salt in the soy sauce, similar to the response that can be seen in frogs' legs.

This point has been argued in several discussion threads I've seen.  Some make the point that live neurons imply life, while others say the preparation of the squid includes removal of the brain before serving.  Such a condition would be incompatible with life (except for U.S. Congressmen).

Miss Cellania has made an intersting (and I think valid) point that the reason for presenting the squid in this fashion is that it provides evidence to the diner that that the food is fresh.

In any case, dead or alive, I would warn potentially squeamish readers that the video is at least grotesque, if not gruesome.  I was going to label it "NSFL" (Not Safe for Lunch) -- until I realized that it actually IS someone's lunch...

(The video posted at A London Salmagundi and at Neatorama has been taken down; this one may not last long.  If it goes, try searching YouTube for Odori-don.)


  1. So THAT"S where the Star Trek writers came up with the idea for Klingon Food!


  2. Literate: Being a vegetarian this grosses me out but if the squid's brain is removed, it is dead. Simply because the muscles are made to contract doesn't mean that the entire organism is alive, just the cells inside the once whole corpse. IT is the same as if I chopped off someone's head and their body still moved when electrically charged.

    Illiterate: No head, he dead!

  3. My thoughts: I think it may not be dead at all. It is on ice, and being cold-blooded that may make it appear dead or comatose, and the fact that it is not submerged may mean it is "suffocating" in air. It almost certainly was alive a few minutes earlier, like lobsters at the Red Lobster. It could survive several minutes in the air. Just barely alive is about as "fresh" as you can get. It certainly appears to not be cooked. And I got the impression that the reaction was to the something in the soy sauce, even perhaps just that it is liquid, which may give it hopes of being in water again.

    All these thoughts may be wrong, but seem possible to me.

    Anonymous states in his/her comment that the brain is removed, but I see no mention of that in your post, Stan.


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