Category: Ebi (prawn). Season: Twice a year in the summer and winter.
A good sushi chef will always procure live shrimp, and will prepare it only moments before it is served in order to maximize freshness and flavor. Kuruma ebi can be served raw (odori), but it is most often boiled. The chef will skewer the shrimp using a wooden stick, and quickly boil it in water that contains salt and vinegar. Just as the ebi starts turning red, it is removed from the water and chilled. The head (and sometimes tail) is then removed and the shell peeled. The shrimp's liver (ebi miso) is placed between the prawn and rice as it is rich in umami and adds a lovely creaminess to the bite.
The resulting piece is really wonderful. Served slightly warm, the ebi's firm flesh contrasts well with the liver's soft texture, and the taste is richly sweet and full of umami.