One of my favorite Tsukudani shop at Tsukiji Market is Suwa Shōten. It is in the outer market (jōgai). The shop is easy to find as there are large square and round aluminum vessels holding the sweet, soy seasoned seafood, usually small fish or shelled clams, and sea vegetables. Sometimes you will find meat products as well, but not much of it to be found at Tsukiji Market. If you walk by and this auntie is working behind the counter, you are in luck, as she speaks English, fairly well.
Tsukudani originated in Tsukuda-jima, which is an island that is very close to Tsukiji Market. The name, Tsukudani, is made up of the place name, Tsukuda, and ni, for simmered goods. This is why Tsukudani should always be capitalized.
Tsukudani originated as a way to preserve the seafood and sea vegetables. It is very intense in flavor as it is quite salty and sweet. The simmering sauce is often made up of soy sauce, hence the dark color, mirin, and sugar. Tsukudani is so richly seasoned that it should be eaten with rice. Usually a small spoonful on a bowl of rice, or as a stuffing for omusubi (rice balls).
Not all Tsukudani is dark in color. On the top left, the golden-hued ika-arare is sweetened shavings of dried squid. Up front, from left to right, shiitake (formerly dried) and kombu, konago (sand lance), and shijimi (Corbicula clams).
On the top left in this photo is kiri-ika, also sweetened, dried julienned strips of squid.
At home we like to make Tsukudani with leftover kombu that we have in abundance from making dashi from scratch. Here on the right are three types of kombu Tsukudani. Do be careful if you have an allergy to shrimp as some Tsukudani is made with tiny shrimp. You could always advise the shop, “Watashi wa ebi no arerugi ga arimasu.”
If you are curious to try the beef Tsukudani, I highly recommend Asakusa Imahan’s version. It is available at many depachika throughout the city.
Suwa Shōten 諏訪商店
Chuo-ku, Tsukiji 4-10-8 中央区築地4-10-8
Tsukiji Market 築地市場
jōgai (outer market) 場外