Why is it that sea urchin sushi can taste bitter?

What does sea urchin sushi taste like?! 

Some people say that “Sea urchin in a wooden box (called ‘hako-uni’ or ‘ori-uni’ or ‘boxed sea urchin’) has a bitter medicine taste”. When a sea urchin loses its freshness, it starts to disintegrate so an additive called alum is used to maintain its shape. If you’ve ever tried a sea urchin that tasted bitter*, this may be the reason.


What is saltwater sea urchin?

Sea urchin soaked in brine without using alum (called ‘ensui-uni’ or ‘saltwater sea urchin’) is also commonly found. There is also a new technology that doesn’t use alum. In this method nitrogen water (water from which oxygen has been removed and then nitrogen dissolved) is used when sealing. The effect of replacing oxygen with nitrogen is inhibited oxidation, maintaining the freshness of the sea urchin.

*An “off flavor” that takes away from the primary good tastes.

Related contents: what is uni?

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Revision date: April 30, 2020


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Surprisingly, there are sushi restaurants established from over 100 years ago in Tokyo.

 

About 200 years ago (around 1810-1830), Yohei Hanaya opened up the oldest nigiri sushi restaurant in Japan. It is said that this was the beginning of edomaesushi. As expected, none of the restaurants remain to this day, no matter how popular they were in those days. However, if relating to those lasting more than a century, as many as 10 still exist in Tokyo. It is such a surprise and many respect that they’ve managed to survive, still keeping their business running now. We will introduce those old restaurants in the order of its establishment.


KUDANSHITA SUSHIMASA

First started as a stall in 1861 at Nihonbashi area, relocated to Kudanbashi and then opened the restaurant in 1923. The beauty of wooden architect managed to survive the war and it has a 100-year history. They carefully prepare sushi ingredients with appropriate amount of vinegar and salt. Take Kohada for instance, they adjust the amount of salt depending on the thickness of fish fillet, fat content, temperature and humidity of the air. Check the glossiness of the vinegared kohada fish, and decide the best timing to serve. Enjoy superb sushi prepared with the traditional recipe passed on for generations.


JANOMEZUSHI HONTEN Established in 1865


BENTENMIYAKOZUSHI Established in 1866


YAHATAZUSHI Established in 1868

During the end of Edo period, many of samurai lords who had served for Tokugawa government lost their jobs. Many of them disguised themselves as dango rice dumpling seller. The first owner of Yahata-zushi was one of them, started the business as dango rice dumpling stall and then the second generation owner began serving sushi. The fourth and fifth chef now run the kitchen behind the counter. The fourth chef has a 62-year experience and he is the respected patriarch chef in Tokyo and serves traditional Edomae-style sushi with careful preparation. The fifth chef adheres to basic principle of sushi making while embarking on new-style. He uses sun-dried salt produced in the French Basque Country for well-matured akami red fish such as tuna, and sea urchin from Hokkaido. Other must-eat ingredients are, the highest quality tuna from long-time partner vendor at Tsukiji market and rare tuna caught at the sea near Miyakejima island and matured for good five days.


OTUNASUSHI Established in 1875


YOSHINOSUSHI HONTEN

Opened in 1879, Yoshino sushi has served excellent Edomae-style sushi. Now the fifth-generation owner runs the restaurant. The second-generation owner first started using Toro, fatty tuna meat while most of the chef discarded it. That was because food freezing was not in widespread use at that time and fatty content of fish went bad quickly. Soon Toro was quickly raved by their regular customers as delicious treat. First it was called “abu” as it came from “abura” meaning fat in Japanese, but it didn’t sound as good as it tastes, so they changed it to “toro” meaning mild and tasty. They will feed you interesting stories to go along with sushi dish. One of them is that they had never considered Gunkan roll of ikura and uni sea urchin as sushi since Gunkan never requires hand rolling techniques as other hand roll sushi does. They use only salt and vinegar to make sushi rice not a slight use of sugar and mirin. And then they carefully prepare fish ingredients to go with vinegared rice. Enjoy delicious sushi dish however you like in a casual atmosphere.


JANOICHI HONTEN Established in 1889


ASAKUSA SUSHISEI Established in 1891


KIBUNZUSHI Established in 1903


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Revision date: April 11, 2017


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Why is it important to avoid wearing too much perfume?

It is often said that the taste, texture and fragrance of sushi should be enjoyed. For example, the striking scent with traces of acidity that gives you a sense of the iron content in tuna. Abalone has a salty fragrance with an abundant seaweed smell. Don’t let perfume get in the way of your enjoyment of the joy of smoked straw scent that penetrates your nose the moment when you put dried bonito in your mouth.

Related contents: SUSHI RESTAURANT ETIQUETTE

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Revision date: April 3, 2017


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Notes for visitors to the observation area at the Tsukiji wholesale fish market? (2017-2018)

We really don’t understand but there is a regulation, that taking photos is prohibited at a seafood wholesale market. And its visiting hours have recently changed from 10am11am) started from 15 June, 2018.

Even though cameras are forbidden as a rule, if you ask intermediate wholesalers for permission, they will gladly let you take pictures. It doesn’t seem quite right to me to have such a rule, as if it were an art museum.

We would like to thank all the intermediate wholesalers who willingly accepted me for shootings at their shops. We are praying you will carry on more thriving business.

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Revision date: May 23, 2018


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Relax and Enjoy under Cherry Blossoms off the Beaten Path!

More and more visitors from overseas are making a point of timing trips to Tokyo during the cherry blossom season. Guidebook in their hands, they head to Meguro River, Ueno Park, Sumida River, Chidorigafuchi Park, or another popular spot. It goes without saying that the blossoms are beautiful in all of these locations.

However, to be frank, there are so many people sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re there to see blossoms or to see crowds. If you’re visiting Japan and you’d like to really experience cherry blossoms, we recommend Shakujii River.

Around 1000 trees bloom on both sides of the river and there are very few people, making it perfect for enjoying cherry blossoms on a stroll. There are actually more cherry blossoms here than on Meguro River or at Ueno Park.

After enjoying the scenery, stop by Makitazushi, established in 1972. Entering this flagship shop of Nakaitabashi is like stepping back in time to the Showa era (1926-1989). Make sure to splurge and order the special sushi selection for JPY 3024.

Location : A few minutes walk from Nakaitabashi Station on the Tobu Tojo Line

Cherry Blossom Season : April 3-April 9

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Revision date: March 28, 2017


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List of Seaweed roll (Makimono)

This refers to Norimaki, originating from Kanpyo maki. Now the core of Norimaki may be made from a number of different ingredients, but the most important part of Norimaki is not the ingredients inside, but the Nori (seaweed). There is a tendency for foreigners to dislike black-colored food, but Nori has a fresh sea scent, and a high amino acid and umami content, so it’s worth a second look.

The Nori used in Norimaki and Gunkan-maki is essential to Edomae sushi. The Nori used in sushi absolutely must have good fragrance and crispiness, melt in your mouth and have the right coloring. The combination of selecting the quality and source site of Nori and using different Nori according to the sushi topping is one of the things sushi chefs are particular about. During the Edo era, the sea near the area that is now Omori in Tokyo was the largest production site of Nori. However, with the reclaiming of Tokyo Bay, Nori can no longer be caught in Omori. Now, places like the Ariake Sea, Seto Inland Sea and Tokyo Bay are famous for producing high-quality Nori.

*Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi ingredients page.

<Norimaki-Seaweed roll>

Anakyu maki-Gizzard shad and Cucumber roll

Himokyu maki-Mantle of ark shell and Cucumber roll

kanpyo maki-Sweet-simmered kanpyo (dried gourd strip) roll

Kappa maki-Cucumber roll

Kohada maki-Gizzard shad roll

Namida maki-Vinegared rice and thin strips of Wasabi rolled in seaweed

Negitoro maki-Green onion and toro roll

Shinko maki-Pickled radish and shiso plant roll

Takuwan maki-Pickled radish roll

Tekka maki-Norimaki sushi roll with red tuna and grated wasabi at the core

Torotaku maki-Toro and Pickled radish roll

Umeshiso maki-Pickled ume and shiso plant roll

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Revision date: October 15, 2020


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List of Nimono, Gyoran and Others

There are only high rank toppings such as rich tasting sea urchin (Uni), salmon roe (Ikura) and herring roe (Kazunoko). All different from other sushi toppings when it comes to a texture and flavor. A lot of them have become widespread ever since the technique of gunkan style sushi was established after the war. There are also sushi toppings made from other than fish and shellfish.

*Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi ingredients page.

<Others>

Akauni-Red sea urchin

Anago-Japanese conger

Bafununi-Short-spined sea uruchin (Green sea urchin)

Caviar-Beluga roe

Ezobafununi-Short-spined sea urchin

Fukahire-Estuary shark

Ginanago-Conger eel

Hamo-Daggertooth pike conger (Muraenesox cinereus (Forsskål, 1775))

Hoya-Sea squirt (Halocynthia roretzi (Drasche, 1884))

Ikura-Salmon roe

Karafutoshishamo-Capellin roe

Kazunoko-Herring roe

Kitamurasakiuni-Northern sea urchin

Komai-no-ko-Saffron cod roe

Komochikonbu-Herring spawn on kelp

Kuroanago-Beach conger

Madachi-Pacific cod milt

Madarako-Pollack roe

Menegi-Young Green Onion Shoots

Murasakiuni-Purple sea urchin

Muruanago (Anguilla)- Punctuated snake-eel (Ophichthus remiger (Valenciennes, 1837))

Namako-Sea cucumber

Niseginanago-(Gnathophis nystromi (Asano))

Noresore-Young Japanese conger, etc.

Oboro-Flavored ground prawns and white fish

Okianago-Bigmouth conger

Ranpufisshu-Lumpfish (Cyclopterus lumpus)

Shiitake-Shiitake mushroom

Shirako-Globefish testis

Shirahigeuni-White spin sea urchin

Sirauo-Icefish (Salangichthys microdon (Bleeker, 1860))

Tako-no-ko-Chestnut octopus roe or North pacific giant octopus roe

Tamago-Egg omelet

Tarako-Cod roe

Tobiko-flying fish roe

Unagi-Japanese eel, freshwater eel (Anguilla japonica Temminck & Schlegel, 1846)

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Revision date: January 21, 2023


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List of Prawn (Ebi) and Crab (Kani)

Crustaceans like shrimp and crab are sushi toppings overflowing with their distinctive sweetness.

Except for Kuruma ebi, Ebi and Kani (shrimp and crab) were introduced as sushi toppings after WWII. The sweetness of shrimp is stronger when eaten raw. There is still a sweetness remaining in boiled shrimp, but it’s weaker. Instead, the umami gets stronger and the texture is also completely different than when served raw. When boiled the fiber is more apparent and it can be bitten clear through. Kuruma ebi is one of the traditional sushi toppings of the Edo period.

The umami of shrimp is sweeter than that of crab. The sweetness comes from the amino acids contained in the extract: glycine, arginine, alanine, propurine, and betaine. In particular, Kurumaebi and amaebi are particularly rich in glycine. On the other hand, umami is related to ATP decomposition-related substances.

a painting of Matsu no sushi
This painting depicts “Matsu no Sushi,” which was famous as the most extravagant sushi in Edo. A child is begging for shrimp sushi.

Crab wasn’t originally an Edomae sushi topping. However, there is a special sweetness that oozes from the gaps in the fibrous body. The umami of crab is the amino acids in the extract component. Among crabs, hairy crabs have the most amino acids, while those of snow crabs, a high-end winter delicacy, are less abundant than those of hairy crabs, and therefore less rich in flavor. Nucleic acid-related substances are mainly CMP, but ATP-degrading substances such as AMP and inosinic acid are also involved in the umami taste. The main component of sweetness is glycine betaine, a sugar alcohol-based component.

*Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi ingredients page.

<Ebi/Kani-Prawn/Crab>

Aburagani-Blue king crab (Paralithodes platypus (Brandi,1850))

Aka ebi-Argentine Red Shrimp

Ama ebi-Deepwater prawn (Deepwater shrimp, Pink prawn)

BenizuwaiganiRed snow crab, Red tanner crab (Chionoecetes japonicus Rathbun, 1932)

Black tiger (Ushi ebi)-Black tiger

Botan ebi-Botan shrimp (Pink prawn, Pink shrimp)

Botan ebi-Spot prawn

Budou ebi-Grape shrimp

Gasa ebi-Argis lar

Gazami (Watarigani)-Blue swimming crab (Portunus (Portunus) trituberculatus (Miers.1876))

Hanasakigani-Hanasaki crab (Paralithodes brevipes (H. Milne-Edwards & Lucas, 1841))

Hime ama ebi- (Plesionika semilaevis Bate,1888)

Ibaramo ebi (Oni ebi)-Spiny Lebbeid

Ise ebi-Japanese spiny lobster

Jinken ebi-Golden shrimp

Kegani-Horsehair crab (Korean crab, Kegani crab)

Kuma ebi (Ashiaka ebi)

Kuruma ebi-Kuruma prawn (Gadus macrocephalus Tilesius, 1810)

Sakura ebi-Sakura shrimp

Shako-Squilla (Mantis shrimp, Edible mantis shrimp)

Shiba ebi-Shiba shrimp (Metapenaeus joyneri (Miers.1880))

Shima ebi-Morotoge shrimp

Shiro ebi (Shira ebi)-Japanese glass shrimp

Tarabagani-King crab (Alaska king crab, Red king crab)

Toyama ebi (Botan ebi)-Hamupback shrimp

Uchidazarigani-Signal crayfish (Pacifastacus trowbridgii (Stimpson,1857))

Uchiwa ebi-Sand crayfish, Flathead lobster, Balmain bug, Slipper lobster

Zuwaigani-Snow crab (Queen crab, Zuwai-crab)

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Revision date: April 5, 2023


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List of Shellfish (Kai)

Shellfish has been a traditional sushi topping started off with the origin of Edomae sushi. Its distinctive texture is fascinating, but the thing is, all kinds are expensive. As a sushi topping, it is placed between rich and light in flavor, and functions as a palate refresher.

The texture, flavor and fragrance differ greatly depending on the type and most people either love or hate Shellfish toppings.

A characteristic of the taste of shellfish is that it is both refreshing and rich. This is presumably due to succinic acid. It is known that if succinic acid is removed from the shellfish extract component, the umami of shellfish also disappears. However, the umami of shellfish is not due to succinic acid alone, but to the synergistic effects of amino acids such as glutamic acid, glycine, alanine, arginine, and betaine, which are present in the extract, and adenylic acid, a nucleic acid-related substance.

Kai is another topping type that has been eaten as Nigiri sushi since it was invented. Hamaguri is essentially a type of shellfish, but when in the Nigiri sushi world, it is generally lightly seared and then marinated in broth, so it is classified as Nimono.

*Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi ingredients page.

<Kai-Shell>

Agemakigai- Chinese razor clam

Akaawabi- Blacklip abalone

Akagai-Ark shell, Bloody clam (Anadara broughtonii (Schrenck, 1867))

Akaneawabi- Red abalone

Akanishi (Akanishigai)- Top shell, Rock shell, Rapa whelk (Rapana venosa (Valenciennes,1846))

Aoyagi (Bakagai)-Rediated trough-shell (Surf-clam)

Aniwabai

Asari - Japanese clam, Baby clam, Manila clam, Japanese littleneck clam (Ruditapes philippinarum (Adams and Reeve,1850))

Atsuezobora- Whelk

Awabi (Kuroawabi)-Japanese abalone

Awabimodoki (Rokogai)- Chilean abalone

Azumanishiki- Scallop

Baigai-Japanese ivory-shell

Chousenbora-whelk (Neptunea arthritica cumingii (Bernardi, 1857))

Echubai (Shirobai)-Finely-striated buccinm (Buccinum striatissimum Sowerby,1899)

Ezoawabi-Ezo-abalone (Haliotis discus subsp. hannai Ino, 1953)

Ezobora (Matsubu)-Wheck (Ezo neptune)

Himeshakogai-Boring clam

Hioogi (Hiougigai)-Noble scallop (Mimachlamys nobilis (Reeve,1852))

Hokkigai-Sakhalin surf clam, Hen-clam (Pseudocardium sachalinense (Schrenck,1862))

Hotate-Common scallop, Giant ezo-scallop, Frill, Fan-shell (Mizuhopecten yessoensis (Jay, 1857))

Ishigakigai-Bering Sea cockle

Itayagai-Japanese scailop, Frill

Iwagaki-Rock-oyster

Kaki (Magaki)-Oyster

Kagabai (Shirobai)-(Buccinum bayani Jousseaume,1883)

Kobashira-The adductor of bakagai shellfish (Rediated trough-shell)

Konakanishi-(Fusinus ferrugineus Kuroda & Habe,1961)

Kumasarubougai

Kuriiroezobora-Whelk

Kuroawabi-Japanese abalone (Haliotis discus subsp. discus)

Madakaawabi-Giant abalone (Haliotis madaka (Habe, 1977))

Megaiawabi-Disk abalone

Mirugai (Honmirugai)-Otter-shell, Keen’s gaper (Tresus keenae (Kuroda & Habe, 1950))

Nabaubagai-Surf clam

Namigai (shiromiru)-Japanese geoduck

Nihama (Hamaguri)-Common orient clam, Japanese hard clam, White clam (Meretrix lusoria (Röding, 1798))

Nakanishi-(Fusinus perplexus (A.Adams,1864))

Ooechubai (Shirobai)-(Buccinum tenuissimum Kuroda in Teramachi,1933)

Oomategai-Giant jacknife clam, Giant razor-shell

Oomizogai-Alaska razor, Dall’s razor clam

Onisazae

Osagawabai

Rokogai (Awabimodoki)-Chilean abalone, Baranacle rock-shell (Concholepas concholepas (Bruguie, 1789))

Sarubougai-Half-crenated ark, Bloody clam

Satougai-Bloody clam

Sazae-Turban shell, Spiny top-shell (Turbo (Batillus) sazae H.Fukuda, 2017)

Shirogai (Manjugai, Saragai)-Northern great tellin

Tairagi (Tairagai)-Pen-shell (Fan-shell)

Tokobushi-Tokobushi abalone (Haliotis diversicolor Reeve, 1846)

Torigai-Egg-cockle, Heart-shell (Fulvia (Fulvia) mutica (Reeve, 1844))

Tubugai (Matsubu)-Ezo-neptune, Whelk, Winckle (Neptunea polycostata Scarlato,1952)

Usuhirawabi-Greenlip abalone

Yakougai-Great green turban

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Revision date: May 19, 2023


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List of Squid (Ika) and Octopus (Tako)

The Japanese love this strong umami coming out of its creepy features. These are sushi toppings that show their presence in your mouth.

There are over 450 types of Ika (squid) in the world and over 100 types just in the seawaters around Japan. Ika is essential to Japanese cuisine and is found in many recipes for home cooking. It is a representative of ingredients for common people that is both affordable and delicious. There are also many different types of Ika used as sushi toppings, and certain Ika are used during certain seasons, each with a unique flavor.

Tako (octopus) is a popular sushi topping at every sushi restaurant. However, preparing Tako from its raw state is very labor intensive. Some restaurants boil it, while others use “Sakura-ni.” Elaborate efforts are made at the restaurant in order to prepare a topping that can be bitten through and emit a delicious fragrance. Needless to say, when prepared raw, it is thoroughly kneaded by hand. It may be struck with the crest or wooden pestle of a kitchen knife, or boiled with roasted green tea, incorporating techniques from Kansai dishes. When Tako is prepared as Sakura-ni*, it is classified as Nimono.

*”Sakura-ni” refers to stewing octopus in sake, mirin and soy sauce to soften it, turning it into a shape that resembles cherry blossom (sakura) petals.

Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi ingredients page.

<Ika/Tako-Squid/ Octopus>

Aka ikaFlying squid (Ommastrephes bartramii (Lesueur, 1821))

Amerikaoo akaikaJumbo flying squid (Dosidicus gigas (Orbigny, 1835))

Aori ika-Bigfin reef squid

Be ika-Beka squid (Loliolus (Nipponololig) beka (Sasaki,1929))

Hotaru ika-Firefly squid

Hi ika (Jindow ika)-Japanese squid (Loliolus (Nipponololigo) japonica (Hoyle, 1885))

Iidako-Ocellated octopus (Octopus ocellatus Gray, 1849)

Kaminari ika (Mongou ika)-Ocellated cuttlefish

Kensaki ika (Shiroika)-Swordtip squid (Uroteuthis (Photololigo) edulis (Hoyle,1885))

Kobusime (Kubusime)-Gaint cuttlefish、Broadclub cuttlefish

Mizudako-North-pacific giant octpus

Shin ika-Baby cuttlefish

Sode ika (Aka ika)Rhomboid squid、Diamond squid (Thysanoteuthis rhombus Troschel, 1857)

Sumi ika (Kou ika)-Cuttlefish

Surume ika-Japanese common squid

Tako (Madako)-Octopus

Yari ika-Spear squid

Yoroppa kou ikaEuropean common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis (Linnaeus, 1758))

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Revision date: March 24, 2023


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List of Silver-skinned fish (Hikarimono)

Hikarimono (Silver-skinned fish) includes horse mackerel, mackerel, sardines, sillago, and gizzard shad, generally referred to as blue-backed fish. Hikarimono all have high-fat content. It is approximately 7% in gizzard shad and horse mackerel. It is about 16% in mackerel. The taste is heavy. Many of the fish in this category lose their freshness quickly, so the preparations differ greatly from restaurant to restaurant. They say that you can tell how well a restaurant is doing by which Hikarimono they serve. This may be why many restaurants make sure to work hard on their Hikarimono.

Tachiuo really does look like a sword from the outside, so it seems like it should be classified as Hikarimono, but it’s actually Shiromi. In the sushi restaurant sector, Hikarimono refers to sushi toppings for which Sujime is used in the preparations. Furthermore, there are chefs who classify Shima aji as Hikarimono when the silver skin is left on, and Shiromi when the skin is removed. There are many people finding it hard to eat but it is actually healthy and rich in nutritive value.

*Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi ingredients page.

<Hikarimono - Silver-skinned fish>

Akaaji

Aji (Maaji) - Japanese horse-mackerel

Ayu - Ayu

Ebodai- Japanese butterfish

Chika- Smelt (Hypomesus japonicus (Brevoort, 1856))

Gomasaba- Spotted mackerel (Scomber australasicus Cuvier, 1832)

Hamo -Daggertooth pike conger

Hatahata - Japanese sandfish

Iwashi - Sardine

Kaiwari - Whitefin trevally

Kamasu (Akakamasu)-Barracuda (Sphyraena pinguis Günther, 1874)

Karafutoshishamo - Capellin, Lodde (Mallotus villosus (Müller, 1776))

Kasugo (Chidai, Kidai)-Baby Red sea-bream (Crimson sea-bream, Eellowback sea-bream)

Kibinago - Banded blue-sprat (Spratelloides gracilis (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846))

Kisu - Japanese whiting

Kohada - Gizzard shad

Kyuriuo - Arctic smelt (Osmerus dentex Steindachner & Kner, 1870)

Mamakari (Sappa) - Big-eye sardine (Sardinella zunasi (Bleeker, 1854))

Maruaji - Amberfish

Muroaji - Amberstripe scad (Decapterus muroadsi (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844))

Nigisu - Deep-sea smelt (Glossanodon semifasciatus (Kishinouye, 1904))

Nishin - Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii Valenciennes, 1847)

Saba - Pacific mackerel

Sanma - Pacific saury

Sayori - Halfbeak

Shinko - Baby Gizzard shad

Shishamo - Smelt, Shishamo smelt (Spirinchus lanceolatus (Hikita, 1913))

Tachiuo-Largehead hairtail , Cutlassfish, Scabbardfish (Trichiurus lepturus Linnaeus, 1758)

Tobiuo - Japanese flyingfish (Cypselurus agoo (Temminck and Schlegel, 1846))

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Revision date: January 10, 2023


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List of White flesh fish (Shiromi)

 

a photo of Shiromi
Because shiromi has few peculiarities, it is an ingredient that can be easily arranged in a variety of cooking methods, flavors, and combinations with ingredients.

The first item recommended to taste is white-flesh fish. Because of its subtle flavor, it doesn’t influence the following topping. Serving it for the very first piece of sushi is a standard move. However, absolute umami in the lightness can be taken as the details Japanese love and no other sushi toppings can offer.

Shiromi refers to white-colored fish meat. The fat content in Shiromi is generally low at about 1.2% in flounder and 4.7% in sea bream. Almost all white fish have a subtle and elegant taste. Furthermore, the rigor mortis takes over slowly and lasts for a long time, so it maintains the crunchy texture longer. Unlike Akami, the Shiromi fish don’t really migrate. You can call yourself a sushi expert if you’re able to recognize which fish it is just by looking at the cut.

Contrary to appearance, Salmon is classified as Shiromi. The salmon is originally grey, and the pink color comes from the pigments of the shrimp and crab on which it preys. We also think that Buri and Shima aji meat looks more beige than white. To be more specific, these are classified as Iromono, but there are relatively few chefs who actually know this term so we will refer to them as Shiromi. Once you’re able to speak knowledgeably on Shiromi, you’ll be a true Sushi Foodie.

What you should keep in mind is that most Shiromi fish used at sushi restaurants is sold as live fish. The broker implements Ikejime according to the instructions of the purchasing shop and then it is delivered. Basically, the chef calculates backward from the time he will make the sushi, aiming to maximize the umami. Furthermore, the price is at least 50% higher, considering the cost to transport from the fishing port to Toyosu Market, etc. This is one of the reasons Shiromi is so expensive at sushi restaurants.

Of course, only white fish that can be used for nigiri sushi is listed. Many varieties of Fugu exist, but with the exception of Torafugu (Japanese puffer fish), they are mainly used in conveyor belt sushi.

*Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi ingredients page. Parentheses after the English name indicate the scientific name.

<Shiromi-White flesh fish>

Aburabouzu-Skilfish

Aburagarei-Kamchatka flounder, Arrow-toothed halibut

Ainame-Green ling (Hexagrammos otakii Jordan & Starks, 1895)

Akahata-Blacktip grouper

Akaisaki-Schlegel red bass

Akakasago-Red deepwater scorpionfish

Akamanbo (Mandai)-Sunfish (Lampris megalopsis Underkoffler, Luers, Hyde and Craig, 2018)

Akamebaru-Rockfish (Sebastes inermis Cuvier,1829)

Akamefugu-Globefish, Blowfish, Puffer

Akamekasago-Yellowbarred red rockfish

Akauo (Arasukamenuke)-Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus (Gilbert, 1890))

Akayagara-Redcornetfish (Fistularia petimba Lacepède, 1803)

Akodai-Matsubara’s red rockfish

Aodai-Blue fusilier

Aoyagara-Bluespotted cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii Rüppell, 1838)

Amadai-Horsehead tilefish

Amemasu-White spotted Char (Salvelinus leucomaenis (Pallas, 1814))

Amerikanamazu-Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus (Rafinesque, 1818))

Ara-Rock-cod

Arotsunasu-Slender tuna (Allothunnus fallaii Serventy, 1948)

Ayamekasago-Yellowbarred red rockfish (Sebastiscus albofasciatus (Lacepède,1802))

Ayu-Sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis (Temminck and Schlegel, 1846))

Azukihata-Slender grouper

Bebizake-Red salmon

Biwamasu-Biwa trout

Bora-Flathead gray mullet

Budai-Japanese parrotfish (Calotomus japonicus (Valenciennes, 1840))

Burakkubasu (Ookuchibasu)-Black bass (Micropterus salmoides (Lacepède,1802))

Buri-Japanese amberjack

Chairomaruhata-Orange spotted grouper

Comonfugu-Globefish, Blowfish, Puffer

Ebotai (Ibodai)-Butterfish, Pacific rudderfish, Melon seed (Psenopsis anomala (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844))

Ebisudai-Japanese soldierfish

Engawa-Thin muscle of the dorsal fin of Japanese flounder, Marbled sole, etc.

Ezo Iwana-White-spotted Char (Salvelinus leucomaenis (Pallas, 1814))

Fedai -Red snapper, Starsnapper

Fugu (Torafugu)-Globefish, Blowfish, Puffer

Ginhirasu-Silver warehou (Seriolella punctata (Forster, 1801))

Ginmutus (Mazeranainame)-Mero, Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides Smith)

Ginmutus (Raigyodamashi)-Mero, Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus mawsoni Norman)

Ginzake-Silver salmon

Gogi-(Salvelinus leucomaenis imbrius (Jordan and McGregor,1925))

Gomafugu-Globefish, Blowfish, Puffer

Hachibiki-Japanese rubyfish (Erythrocles schlegelii (Richardson, 1846))

Hakkaku (Tokubire)-Sailfin poacher (Podothecus sachi (Jordan and Snyder, 1901))

Hakofugu-Black-spotted boxfish

Hamadai (Onaga)-Deepwater longtail red snapper

Hamafuefukidai (Taman)-Spangled emperor

Harisenbon-Longspined porcupinefish

Hedai-Goldlined seabream

Higanfugu-Globefish, Blowfish, Puffer

Himedai-Lavender jobfish

Hiramasa-Amberjack

Hirame-Japanese flounder (Olive flounder)

Hirasuzuki-Blackfin seabass (Lateolabrax latus Katayama, 1957)

Hitozuraharisenbon-Black-blotched porcupinefish

Hoki-Blue haki, Blue grenadier, Whiptail (Macruronus novaezelandiae (Hector, 1871))

Hokke-Okhotsk atka mackerel

Hoshigarei-Spotted halibut (Verasper variegatus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846))

Houbou-Bluefin searobin, Red gurnard (Chelidonichthys spinosus (McClelland, 1844))

Houkihata-Broom grouper

Ikanago-Pacific sand lance

Inada-Japanese amberjack (30〜40cm)

Ira-Wrasse, Tuskfish

Isaki-Striped pigfish

Ishidai-Barred knifejaw (Oplegnathus fasciatus (Temminck and Schlegel,1844))

Ishigakidai-Spotted knifejaw (Oplegnathus punctatus (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844))

Ishigakifugu-Spotfin burrfish

Ishigarei-Stone flounder (Platichthys bicoloratus (Basilewsky,1855))

Ishimochi (Shiroguchi)-Sliver croaker (Pennahia argentata (Houttuyn,1782 ))

Itou-Sakhalin taimen (Hucho perryi (Brevoort, 1856))

Itoyoridai-Golden threadfin bream (Nemipterus virgatus (Houttuyn, 1782))

Izumidai (Chika)-Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus (Linnaeus,1766))

Kagamidai (Ginmatou)-John dorey, Mirror dory

Kagokakidai-Footballer

Kaiwari-Whitefin trevally, Horse kingfish (Kaiwarinus equula (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844))

Kajika-Japanese sculpin

Kanafugu-Smooth Blaasop

Kanagashira-Searobin (Lepidotrigla microptera Günther, 1873)

Kanpachi-Greater amberjack

Karafutomasu-Pink salmon

Karasu (Gatoro)-(Takifugu chinensis (Abe, 1949))

Karasugarei-Greenland halibut

Kasago-Marbled rockfish (Sebastiscus marmoratus (Cuvier, 1829))

Kawahagi-Filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer (Temminck & Schlegel, 1850))

Keiji-Chum salmon, Dog salmon, Keta salmon

Kichinu (Kibire)-Yellowfin sea-bream

Kidai (Renkodai)-Yellowback seabream (Dentex hypselosomus Bleeker, 1854)

Kijihata (Akou)-Redspotted Grouper

Kingklip-Pink cusk-eel (Genypterus blacodes  (Forster, 1801))

Kinki (Kichiji)-Thornhead (Sebastolobus macrochir (Günther, 1877))

Kinmedai-Splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens Lowe,1834)

Kintokidai-Red bigeye (Priacanthus macracanthus Cuvier,1829)

Kitenhata-Duskytail grouper

Kitsunemebaru (Mazoi)-Fox jacopever (Sebastes vulpes Döderlein, 1884)

Kochi (Magochi)-Bartail flathead

Korodai-Painted sweetlip

Koshodai-Crescent sweetlips (Plectorhinchus cinctus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1843))

Kue-Longtooth grouper (Epinephelus bruneus Bloch, 1793)

Kurodai (Chinu)-Blackhead seabream

Kuromebaru-Brown rockfish (Sebastes ventricosus Temminck and Schlegel,1843)

Kuromejina-Smallscale blackfish (Girella leonina (Richardson,1846))

Kurosabafugu-Dark rough-backed puffer

Kurosoi-Black rockfish, Schlegel’s rockfish (Sebastes schlegelii Hilgendorf, 1880)

Kurumadai-Japanese bigeye (Pristigenys niphonia (Cuvier,1829))

Kusafugu-Globefish, Blowfish, Puffer

Kyuusen-Wrasse

Okinamejina- (Girella mezina Jordan & Starks, 1907)

Mafugu-Globefish, Blowfish, Puffer

Mahata (Hata)-Grouper, Rock-cod, Seven band grouper (Hyporthodus septemfasciatus (Thunberg 1793))

Mahaze-Spiny goby, Yellowfin goby (Acanthogobius flavimanus (Temminck and Schlegel, 1845))

Mahi-mahi (Shiira)-Common dolphinfish

Makogarei-Marbled sole

Managatsuo-Silver pomfret (Pampus punctatissimus (Temminck & Schlegel, 1845))

Masunosuke-King salmon (Oncorhynchus tschawytscha (Walbaum, 1792))

Matoudai-John dory (Zeus faber Linnaeus, 1758)

Matsukawagarei (Matsukawa)-Barfin flounder (Verasper moseri Jordan & Gilbert, 1898)

Mebaru-Rockfish

Medai-Japanese butterfish

Megochi-Bigeyed flathead

Mehikari-Bigeyed greeneye (Chlorophthalmus albatrossis Jordan & Starks, 1904)

Meichidai-Nakedhead (Gymnocranius griseus (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844))

Meitagarei-Finespotted flounder, Ridged-eye flounder

Mejika-Chum salmon, Dog salmon, Keta salmon

Mejina-Largescale blackish, Greeenfish, Nibbler, Rudderfish (Girella punctata Gray, 1835)

Merurusa (New Zealand heiku)-Southern haku, Haku, whiting (Merluccius australis  (Hutton, 1872))

Mutsu-Japanese bluefish

Nametagarei (Babagarei)-Slime flounder

Nashifugu-Purple puffer

Nezumifugu-Spot-fin porcupinefish

Nezumigochi (Megochi)-Richardson’s dragonet

Nibe-Honnibe croaker (Nibea mitsukurii (Jordan and Snyder, 1900))

Nijimasu-Rainbow trout

Nikko Iwana-(Salvelinus leucomaenis pluvius (Hilgendorf, 1876))

Nizadai-Scalpel sawtail

Nodoguro (Akamutsu)-Blackthroat seaperch

Ohyo- Halibut

Ojisan- Manybar goatfish

Okimebaru- Goldeye rockfish

Okoze (Oniokoze)-Devil stinger (Inimicus japonicus (Cuvier, 1829))

Oomehata-Silvergray seaperch (Malakichthys griseus Döderlein,1883)

Oomematoudai-(Allocyttus verrucosus (Gilchrist,1906))

Peherei-(Odontesthes bonariensis (Valenciennes, 1835))

Sake -Salmon

Sakuramasu -Cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou subsp. masou)

Salmon trout -(Artificially created rainbow trout varieties)

Samegarei -Roughscale sole

Sawara-Japanese spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus niphonius (Cuvier, 1832))

Sennen-Enperor red snapper

Shima aji-Crevalle jack (Trevally)

Shimafugu-Striped puffer

Shinshu salmon-(A crossbreed between a male brown trout and a female rainbow trout)

Shirasu-Whitebait

Shirohirasu-White warehou (Seriolella caerulea Guichenot, 1848)

Shirokurabera (Makubu)-Blackspot tuskfish

Shiromebaru-Rockfish (Sebastes cheni Barsukov,1988)

Shirosabafugu (Sabafugu)-Half-smooth golden pufferfish

Shirosuzuki -Nile perch (Lates niloticus (Linnaeus))

Shirozake (Shake)-Chum salmon

Shosaifugu-Globefish, Blowfish, Puffer

Sokoitoyoridai-Yellowbelly threadfin bream (Nemipterus bathybius Snyder, 1911)

Sugi-Cobia (Rachycentron canadum (Linnaeus, 1766))

Sujiara-Leopard coralgrouper

Suzuki-Japanese seaperch

Tai (Madai)-Red seabream (Pagrus major (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844))

Taiseiyosake-Atlantic salmon

Takasago (Gurukun)-Black-tip fusilier (Pterocaesio digramma (Bleeker, 1864))

Tara (Madara)-Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus Tilesius, 1810)

Tobinumeri-(Repomucenus beniteguri (Jordan and Snyder, 1900))

Tokishiazu (Toki)-Chum salmon, Dog salmon, Keta salmon

Torafugu-Japanese pufferfish (Takifugu rubripes (Temminck and Schlegel, 1850))

Toujin-Hardhead grenadier (Coelorinchus japonicus (Temminck and Schlegel, 1846))

Tsumuburi-Rainbow runner

Ukkarikasago- (Sebastiscus tertius Barsukov and Chen, 1978)

Umazurahagi-Leatherfish (Thamnaconus modestus (Gunther,1877))

Umeiro-Yellowtail blue snapper

Umeiromodoki-Yellow and blueback fusilier

Usubahagi-Unicorn leatherjacket filefish

Usumebaru-Goldeye rockfish (Sebastes thompsoni (Jordan and Hubbs, 1925))

Utsubo-Brutal moray (Gymnothorax kidako (Temminck and Schlegel, 1847))

Yaitohata-Malabar grouper

Yamato Iwana(Salvelinus leucomaenis japonicus (Oshima, 1938))

Yanagi-no-mai-Yellow body rockfish

Yarinumeri-(Repomucenus huguenini (Bleeker, 1859))

Yoritofugu-Blunthead puffer

Yoroiitatiuo (Higedara)-Armoured cusk

Yumekasago-Scorpionfish (Helicolenus hilgendorfi (Steindachner and Döderlein, 1884))

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Revision date: April 6, 2023


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List of Red flesh fish (Akami)

Akami generally refers to red-colored meat like beef and fish meat. The typical Akami fish are tuna and bonito. Its fatty and rich taste gives you satisfaction like “This is the sushi”. The meat gets its red color from the high hemoglobin and myoglobin content specific to migratory fish. At a sushi restaurant, when you order Akami, you will be served tuna. The word Akami exists for tuna.

*Japanese terms will be italicized on sushi ingredients page.

<Akami-Red flesh fish>

Basho kajiki-Indo pacific sailfish (Istiophorus platypterus (Shaw, 1792))

Binnaga maguro-Albacore (Thunnus alalunga (Bonnaterre, 1788))

Gasutoro-Butterfly kingfish (Gasterochisma melampus Richardson,1845)

Hagatuo-Striped bonito (Sarda orientalis (Temminck and Schlegel, 1844))

Hirasouda-Frigate tuna (Auxis thazard thazard (Lacepède, 1800))

Hosogatsuo (Arotsunasu)-Slender tuna (Allothunnus fallaii Serventy, 1948)

Iso maguro-Dogtooth tuna, Scaleless tuna (Gymnosarda unicolor (Rüppell, 1838))

Katsuo-Bonito (Oceanic bonito, Striped tuna)

Kihada maguro-Yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares (Bonnaterre, 1788))

Kosinaga maguro- Longtail tuna (Thunnus tonggol (Bleeker, 1851))

Kurokawa kajiki (Kuro kajiki)-Indo pacific Blue marlin (Makaira nigricans Lacepède, 1802)

Maguro (Kuromaguro, Honmaguro, Shibi)-Bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis (Temminck and Schlegel,1844))

Makajiki-Striped marlin (Kajikia audax (Philippi, 1887))

Mebachi maguro-Bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus (Lowe, 1839))

Mejimaguro (Meji)-Young bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis (Temminck and Schlegel,1844))

Mekajiki-Swordfish (Xiphias gladius Linnaeus, 1758)

Minami maguro (Indo maguro)-Southernbluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii (Castelnau, 1872))

Shirokawa kajiki (Shiro kajiki)-Black marlin (Istiompax indica (Cuvier, 1832))

Suma (Yaito-gatsuo)-Wavyback skipjack, Eastern little tuna (Euthynnus affinis (Cantor, 1849))

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Revision date: April 15, 2023


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