Armoured cusk (Yoroiitachiuo)

A photo of Armoured cusk (Yoroiitatiuo)

The appearance of Armoured cusk (Yoroiitatiuo)

Common name: Armoured cusk, Armored brotula, Armored weaselfish

Japanese name: Yoroiitachiuo (鎧鼬魚、髭鱈)

Scientific name: Hoplobrotula armata (Temminck and Schlegel, 1846)

Nigiri sushi detail: Armoured cusk (Yoroiitachiuo) Nigiri sushi


Armoured cusk (Yoroiitachiuo) is found from Aomori Prefecture to the southern coast of Kyushu, the East China Sea, the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island, the Chinese coast from Shandong Peninsula to Hainan Island, and Australia. It inhabits sandy and muddy bottoms at depths of 200~350m. Adults grow to about 40 cm in length. The body color is speckled on the dorsal side and silvery white on the ventral side. It is a familiar fish in western Japan, including Kyushu, San’in and Kii Peninsula, and in eastern Japan it is caught in Suruga Bay and Sagami Bay.

Yoroiitachiuo are called Higedara in Tokyo and other places because of their appearance, but they are not a member of the Cod (Tara) family. Higedara is in season in winter. Fish weighing more than 1 kg are a high-end fish that are rarely available in the general market due to the small quantity in stock.

It is a surprisingly elegant white fish from the outside, and when made into sashimi, it has a soft texture but with ample umami. It is hard to believe that it has been used for Nigiri sushi since the Edo period, but there are rare sushi restaurants in Tokyo that serve it. It can also be enjoyed steamed in sake, miso soup, nabe and other soups.

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