Sazae no Tsuboyaki (Turbo cooked in its own shell) (サザエの壺焼き)

Sazae no Tsuboyaki (Turbo cooked in its own shell) is a way of cooking a snail, sazae (turbo). Tsuboyaki (literally, cook in a vase) means two things: one is to smother food in a vase-shaped cooker, and another is to use a snail shell itself as a cooker and process the snail, but usually, the latter cuisine is a typical example.

While it is believed to have been a beachside recipe derived by fishermen, its exact origin is unknown. It is thought that this might have been a simple and exciting way to cook by placing it in a bonfire and flavoring it with salty seawater.

Although it is not known whether it was a tsuboyaki, it is said that the characters '焼栄螺' (burnt turbo) appeared on the menu card of a banquet hosted by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI when he invited Emperor Goyozei to his Jurakudai residence in 1588.

It is known that sazae no tsuboyaki that appeared in the Edo period was similar to the today's form. For example, there was an expression that 'What we are selling in here is Sazae no Tsuboyaki' at around Yui-cho (Shizuoka Prefecture) in "Tokai dochu hizakurige" (Shanks' Pony along the Tokaido Road) (Published from 1802 to 1822) written by JUPPENSHA Ikku. There was another episode of a sumo wrestler Kumonryu that 'He ate 16 or 17 of sazae no tsuboyaki' in an essay titled "Nemonogatari" (Tales of Sleeping) during the later Edo period. These facts show that 'sazae no tsuboyaki' turned from an easy seaside cuisine to a product sold in shops during the middle of the Edo period at the latest.

In the Meiji era, a news painter Shokoku YAMAMOTO (c.1869 - 1965) reported with a picture titled "Ginza Jizo-mae ennichi" (a fair in front of the Ginza-Jizo, guardian deity of children) in a magazine "Fuzoku Gaho" (Manners and Customs in Pictures) (c. 1901) that there were street stalls selling 'sazae no tsuboyaki,' and this shows that the shops had moved from seaside towns into urban areas.


As sazae no tsuboyaki is seen all over the country, the recipe varies according to the region and the period. The two most typical recipes are shown below.

One way is to simply sear it, flavor it with soy sauce, etc, then draw up the body of the shell and eat it.
In this example, people eat the entire body of the turban inside the shell except for the bottom end (the top of the cone-shaped body.)

Another way is to draw up the body of the turban from the shell first, cut off the bottom end, cut the body into bite-size pieces, then get them back inside the shell, and then burn the shell in a fire. In this example, shrimp, a ginkgo nut, a shiitake mushroom, and the like, other than the body of turbo are packed in the shell, and the soup is poured in a more sophisticated manner into the shell instead of some drops of soy sauce. This sophisticated way is often adopted when sazae no tsuboyaki is served at fancy Japanese-style restaurants.

[Original Japanese]