What is used as a substitute for Madako (Octopus)?

Among the many sushi toppings, Pacific bluefin tuna, and actually the Madai (Red sea bream) as well, are toppings that are difficult for an amateur to tell whether it is farmed or wild. However, there is no need to worry about that when it comes to Tako (Octopus). There are no octopus farms to be found in the world, so it is a 100% wild topping.

In Japan, domestic production isn’t enough to satisfy the appetite of Japanese who like Tako, so the majority relies on imports. Imports from Africa account for 80% and the remainder is imported from China, Southeast Asia, Mexico, Spain and other places in the world.

Most of the African imports are produced by nations on the northwestern coast, with the highest number coming from Mauritania. Until 2003 the highest volume came from Morocco for many years. However, due to continued mass catches to sell to Japan, Tako numbers dropped drastically, leading to the Moroccan government panicking and outlawing fishing. For some reason, Japanese people have grown to love Tako and now consume nearly half of the Tako caught throughout the world.

There are over 200 types of Tako in the world with approximately 60 types inhabiting the seas near Japan. Among these, the Japanese mainly only eat Madako, Mizudako and Iidako. Even among these, Madako makes up at least 80% of consumption.

Most of the Tako found at conveyor belt sushi is African Madako (Madako from Africa). African produced Tako is boiled on-site before being imported frozen. The cost is 20 cents or less per topping.

Amateurs can’t tell the difference between domestic Tako or African imports. However, there is one aspect that even an amateur can use to distinguish between the two. There is one condition for this to work, and that is that at least one of the suckers is in-tact. The suckers are scraped off for most toppings, but in cases where they are sliced by the restaurant, there are often suckers remaining. If the sucker is pure white, it is almost definitely from Africa. Meanwhile, domestic Tako suckers maintain a faint red color in the suckers, even when boiled. The reason the suckers turn white seems to be an effect of the food preservatives added during processing, but this has not been confirmed.

There happens to be a substitute for Madako as well.

One of these is the Iwadako from Vietnam, which grows as large as the height of an adult human. It is imported in frozen slices that can be used as raw Tako as soon as it thaws. The cost of this topping is 20 cents or less per piece. This ends up disguised as Hokkaido Tako.

There are also domestic substitutes. Yanagidako (Chestnut octopus) is mainly caught in the Pacific Ocean, from Chiba prefecture northward. The flavor is lighter than Madako, but it is also softer than Madako, so some people actually consider it to be better than Madako. If it is boiled and made into sushi, an amateur can’t distinguish between it and Madako. The legs are thin so they just need to be cut at an extreme angle in order to make the topping appear bigger. The cost of this topping is 15 cents or less per piece. It is also used as Mizudako because it is watery when eaten raw.

As you can see, there are also many substitute toppings for Madako.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: December 21, 2021

CONTENTS

Foreword

How to read this book

History of Nigiri sushi

Classification of Nigiri sushi

1.AKAMI

1-1 Pacific bluefin tuna (Taiheiyou Kuro maguro)

1-1-1 Lean meat of tuna (Akami)

1-1-2 Medium Fatty Tuna (Chutoro)

1-1-3 Very Fatty Tuna (Otoro)

What is Harakami Ichiban

1-1-4 Meji-maguro

1-1-5 Hachinomi

1-1-6 Kamatoro

1-1-7 Jabara

1-1-8 Chiai-gishi

1-1-9 Wakaremi

What is Hagashi

1-1-10 Tossaki

1-1-11 Tenpa

1-1-12 Hohoniku

1-1-13 Sunazuri

1-2 Atlantic bluefin tuna (Taiseiyou Kuro maguro)

1-3 Southern bluefin tuna (Minami maguro)

1-4 Bigeye tuna (Mebachi maguro)

1-5 Yellowfin tuna (Kihada maguro)

1-6 Albacore Tuna (Binnaga maguro)

What are Meji, Chubou and Maguro?

1-7 Bonito (Katsuo)

1-8 Striped marlin (Makajiki)

The history of how toro sushi became a superstar!

2.SHIROMI

2-1 Atlantic salmon

2-2 Salmon trout

What is Toro salmon?

2-3 King salmon (Masunosuke)

2-4 Chum salmon (Tokishirazu)

2-5 Chum salmon (Keiji)

2-6 Cherry salmon (Sakuramasu)

Salmon is not used as a topping in Edomae sushi!

2-7 White horsehead (Shiro-amadai)

2-8 Horsehead (Aka-amadai)

2-9 Largehead hairtail (Tachiuo)

2-10 Large-eyed bream (Meichidai)

2-11 Splendid alfonsino (Kinmedai)

2-12 Red seabream (Madai)

What is Red Snapper the same as “Tai”?

2-13 Bastard halibut (Hirame)

2-14 Engawa

2-15 Marbled sole (Makogarei)

2-16 Spotted halibut (Hoshigarei)

How to tell the difference Between Buri, Hiramasa and Kanpachi

2-17 Greater amberjack (Kanpachi)

2-18 Japanese amberjack (Buri)

2-19 Young amberjack (Inada)

2-20 Goldstriped amberjack (Hiramasa)

2-21 Striped jack (Shima aji)

2-22 Japanese spanish mackerel (Sawara)

2-23 Japanese sea bass (Suzuki)

2-24 Chicken grunt (Isaki)

2-25 Filefish (Kawahagi)

When does Kinmedai taste the best?

2-26 Blackthroat seaperch (Nodoguro)

2-27 Tiger puffer (Torafugu)

2-28 Red spotted grouper (Kijihata)

2-29 Bartail flathead (Kochi)

2-30 Sevenband grouper (Hata)

What is Wasabi?

2-31 Longtooth grouper (Kue)

2-32 Japanese butterfish (Ebodai)

2-33 Red gurnard (Houbou)

2-34 Devil stinger (Okoze)

2-35 Green ling (Ainame)

2-36 Red barracuda (Kamasu)

How to use soy sauce under the watchful eye of a Sushi chef

2-37 Barred knifejaw (Ishidai)

2-38 Alaska codfish (Madara)

2-39 Black rockfish (Kurosoi)

2-40 Black seabream (Kurodai)

2-41 Bighand thornyhead (Kichiji)

2-42 Japanese bluefish (Mutsu)

How to Jukusei?

3.HIKARIMONO

3-1 Mackerel (Saba)

3-2 Horse mackerel (Aji)

3-3 Japanese sardine (Iwashi)

3-4 Japanese halfbeak (Sayori)

What is Tsukedai?

3-5 Pacific saury (Sanma)

3-6 Gizzard shad (Kohada)

3-7 Baby Gizzard shad (Shinko)

3-8 Young crimson sea bream (Kasugo)

3-9 Japanese whiting (Kisu)

3-10 Pacific herring (Nishin)

What are Uwami and Shitami?

4.NIMONO

4-1 Common orient clam (Nihamaguri)

4-2 Japanese conger (Anago)

4-3 Japanese eel (Unagi)

4-4 Squilla (Shako)

4-5 Japanese icefish (Shirauo)

Does the taste of wasabi differ depending on the grater?!

5.KAI

5-1 Ark shell (Akagai)

5-2 Japanese abalone (Kuro awabi)

5-3 Giant abalone (Madaka awabi)

5-4 Disk abalone (Megai awabi)

5-5 Ezo abalone (Ezo awabi)

5-6 Japanese egg cockle (Torigai)

5-7 Common scallop (Hotate)

What is Tezu?

5-8 Sakhalin surf clam (Hokkigai)

5-9 Japanese oyster (Kaki)

5-10 Keen’s gaper (Mirugai)

5-11 Round clam (Aoyagi)

5-12 Round clam ligaments (Kobashira)

5-13 Pen-shell (Tairagi)

5-14 Whelk (Tsubugai)

Why is sushi served with Gari?

Types of squid

6.IKA/TAKO

6-1 Bigfin reef squid (Aori ika)

6-2 Golden cuttlefish (Sumi ika)

6-3 Swordtip squid (Kensaki ika)

6-4 Spear squid (Yari ika)

Why is Nigiri sushi eaten with soy sauce?

6-5 Japanese common squid (Surume ika)

6-6 Baby Golden cuttlefish (Shin ika)

6-7 Firefly squid (Hotaru ika)

6-8 North pacific giant octopus (Mizudako)

6-9 Common octopus (Madako)

What is Sute-shari?

7.EBI/KANI

7-1 Kuruma prawn (Kuruma ebi)

7-2 Botan shrimp (Botan ebi)

7-3 Morotoge shrimp (Shima ebi)

7-4 Sweet shrimp (Ama ebi)

Learn the basics of pairing sake with sushi!

7-5 Broad velvet shrimp (Shiro ebi)

7-6 Snow crab (Zuwaigani)

7-7 Horsehair crab (Kegani)

Why did the vinegar used in shari switch from red vinegar to rice vinegar?

8.GYORAN

8-1 Salmon roe (Ikura)

8-2 Herring roe (kazunoko)

8-3 Green sea urchin (Bafun uni)

8-4 Red sea urchin (Aka uni)

Why is it that sea urchin sushi can taste bitter?

8-5 Purple sea urchin (Murasaki uni)

8-6 Short-spined sea urchin (Ezobafun uni)

Hokkaido’s main Ezobafun uni production area

8-7 Northern sea urchin (Kitamurasaki uni)

Hokkaido’s main Kitamurasaki uni production area

8-8 Herring spawn on kelp (Komochi kombu)

The secret story of how Ikura became a sushi topping!

9.OTHERS

9-1 Young Green Onion Shoots (Menegi)

9-2 Shiitake mushroom (Shiitake)

9-3 Daggertooth pike conger (Hamo)

What tea pairs well with Nigiri sushi?

9-4 Oboro

9-5 Monkfish liver (Ankimo)

9-6 Milt (Shirako)

9-7 Omelette (Tamagoyaki)

Does real Edomae sushi no longer exist!?

10.MAKIMONO

10-1 Dried Gourd Shavings Sushi Roll (Kanpyo maki)

What is Kanpyo?

10-2 Tuna Roll (Tekka maki)

10-3 Cucumber roll (Kappa maki)

What is Okonomi?

Sushi Restaurant Etiquette

Sushi Vocabulary and Jargon

Afterword

References

Cooperating sushi restaurant for photography

Copyright

Buy now

What is Toro Katsuo (Torogatsuo)?

Toro is an absolute at sushi restaurants and it’s only natural to aspire to such a position. That’s why there are so many sushi dish names that start with “Toro”. The most laissez-faire of these is Toro salmon. In this case the definition of Toro is ignored in an attempt to promote sales. Just as bad is Toro katsuo (pronounced “Toro-gatsuo” in Japanese).

Katsuo is born in the warm southern seas. When it reaches about two years old it migrates north in pursuit of Iwashi and other small fish. There are two routes taken by the Katsuo that come to the seas around Japan. One of the routes rides the Kuroshio Current (a warm current) from around the Philippines, passing by Taiwan and the Ryukyus Islands, arriving in southern Kyushu. From there the Katsuo rarely heads toward the Sea of Japan and instead the majority moves northward on the Pacific Ocean side. The Katsuo migration schedule may shift depending on the temperature of the seawater and how the schools of Iwashi and Aji (which the Katsuo feeds on) are migrating that year. The first group appears around Ishigaki Island about January, then in the seas off the shores of Kyushu and Shikoku between February and March. It then moves to the seas off of the Izu and Boso peninsulas between April and June. It reaches the open seas off the southern coast of Sanriku and Hokkaido between July and September.

Another route follows the Ogasawara ocean current from below the equator in the seas off the shore of Papua New Guinea and the seas around Micronesia to the Ogasawara Islands, along the Seven Islands of Izu and approaching the open seas off the Boso Peninsula. The route then goes northward to join with the routes mentioned above.

It’s the Modori-gatsuo that begins reverse migration toward the south at the beginning of autumn when the water temperatures start to drop. Katsuo has a strong appetite before returning south in preparation for the long trip. Unlike the light-flavored Hatsu-gatsuo, the Modori-gatsuo has plenty of fat and its body fattens up quite a bit. The main fishing locations for Modori-gatsuo are in the northern Pacific, such as the waters off the shore of Sanriku. This is the season when it is truly worthy of the name Toro katsuo when served raw, and nothing else should be called by the same name.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: December 1, 2021