In the United States, Sea Bream is often called a Red Snapper. However, strictly speaking, this is not correct.
Biologically, Snapper is a generic term for all species in the snapper family (Lutjanidae). Over 100 different species of snapper inhabit tropical coastal waters. Red snapper is mainly fished in the Gulf of Mexico.
They are called American red snapper or Northern red snapper in supermarkets. The scientific name is Lutjanus campechanus.
And there is another species of fish called the Red Snapper. The Australasian snapper or silver seabream (Japanese name is Goushu-madai) is a species of porgie found in the coastal waters of Australia, Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, and New Zealand. It is a close relative of the Japanese Tai and similar in shape, but the body color of this species is golden pink, with a lighter reddish tinge than Tai, and the blue spots are lighter in color and somewhat larger. It has softer flesh and less flavor than the Tai, but has a light, delicious taste. Its scientific name is Chrysophrys auratus.
So, what is the fish that Japanese sushi restaurants call “Tai”?
They say there are over 300 different species of fish with “Tai” in the name, making up 10% of Japan’s fish. When we say “Tai” in Japanese, we are referring to “madai” or red sea bream. Red sea-bream is categorized in the “madai” family (Sparidae).
Incidentally, relatives of the sea bream often served at sushi restaurants include red sea bream (madai), crimson sea bream (chidai) and yellowback sea bream (kidai). While “kinmedai” (Splendid alfonsino) and “amadai” (horsehead tilefish) have the name “tai/dai” in them, they are not part of the same family as “tai”. Splendid alfonsino is a type of deep-sea fish.
In American supermarkets, Porgy (Stenotomus chrysops) is sold, which has a beautiful cherry color and looks like Tai itself. However, the taste is different from that of Tai, being softer and lighter in flesh. Around New York and New Jersey, it is called Porgy, and in Massachusetts, it is called Scup. It is native to the Atlantic Ocean.
Red sea bream and red snapper look similar, but when served as sushi, their texture and flavors are entirely different. So if you come to Japan, please try and eat natural madai. There is no “zatsumi” (overpowering bitterness) and it has a slight sweetness to it. This is the taste of tai, known as the king of the white fish. Just for your own reference.
Red seabream (Tai)
We hope this information will be helpful.
Revision date: March 1, 2023
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