John dory (Matoudai) is distributed south of Honshu, in the East China Sea, Indian Ocean, western Pacific, and western Atlantic. It is found in sandy mud at depths of about 100 m, either alone or in small groups. The body is oval, with a marked lateral flattening. It has a large blackish-brown circular crest with a white border in the center of its body. John dory is called “Saint Peter‘s fish” in Western countries and seems to be revered by Catholics. Its scientific name is Zeus faber Linnaeus,1758.
What does John dory (Matoudai) sushi taste like?
The flesh of John dory (Matoudai) is light and mild, but lacking in flavor, so it is eaten with a variety of flavors. It is very tasty as a poire or meuniere, as it goes well with butter. In France, it is very popular as a standard meuniere along with sole.
It is characterized by its strong umami taste, and its liver is known to be very tasty. Sashimi is served with liver soy sauce, and Nigiri may be served with Kobujime.
Since its season is from fall to winter, it covers the same period as filefish. In Tokyo, there is also farmed filefish, and the sushi chef will use the filefish that is distributed in a considerable amount. Sushi restaurants that deal directly with fishing ports on the Sea of Japan side seem to get it by chance, but you almost never see it at sushi restaurants in Tokyo.
Slender sprat (Kibinago) is distributed south of central Honshu, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific Ocean. They are found in large schools on the surface from the coast facing the open sea to offshore. Its body length is 8~10 cm. It has an elongated body shape like Japanese anchovy at first glance, and is yellowish-white overall, with a bluish back and one bright silvery-white longitudinal stripe on the body. The season is summer. In the Satsuma region of Kyushu, it is highly prized as a local dish, and sashimi, arranged in the shape of chrysanthemum flowers, is famous. In Kagoshima, it is often served with vinegared miso. The scientific name is Spratelloides gracilis (Temminck & Schlegel, 1846).
What does Slender sprat (Kibinago) sushi taste like?
Slender sprat (Kibinago) cannot adapt to environmental changes. They need clean underwater to survive. Even in well-equipped aquariums, there are no examples of successful long-term breeding. In addition, their freshness deteriorates very quickly after death, so in the past, only people at fishing ports were able to eat them as sashimi.
When made into nigiri sushi, the fish is eaten with several pieces of hand-opened neta (topping). It is rich in flavor and uses scallions and ginger as condiments. This nigiri sushi should be paired with Satsuma shochu, a local specialty.
Sailfin poacher (Hakkaku) is distributed north of Toyama Prefecture on the Sea of Japan side, north of Miyagi Prefecture on the Pacific side, east coast of the Korean Peninsula, and Peter the Great Gulf. It inhabits shallow muddy areas at depths of about 150 meters. Body color is light blackish brown, and length reaches 40 cm.
The head is triangular in shape, and the body surface is angular, covered with spiny bony plates, and nearly octagonal in cross-section. It has a beard like a catfish. The male’s fins are exceptionally large, hence the name Tokubire (Toku means special and bire means fin), while sushi chefs call it Hakkaku (Hakkaku means octagonal) because of the shape of its cross-section. The season is around from December to February. The scientific name is Podothecus sachi (Jordan & Snyder, 1901).
What does Sailfin poacher (Hakkaku) sushi taste like?
Sailfin poacher (Hakkaku) is not well-known south of the Tohoku region, but it is popular as sushi material at sushi restaurants in Hokkaido. Contrary to its appearance, it is a fatty white fish with a crunchy texture and a rich flavor and sweetness of fat that spreads in the mouth. Usually the white meat is clear, but its flesh is murky white due to the presence of lots of fat. Also, males are larger and have more fat.
However, because of this shape, the yield rate is quite low. Because there are so few of them in Hokkaido, even many Hokkaido residents know of them but have never eaten them, so they are almost never available at sushi restaurants in Tokyo.
You can find Hakkaku at Izakaya because it can be prepared any way you like: “salt-grilled,” “dried overnight,” or “deep-fried.”
Japanese scaled sardine (Mamakari) is distributed south of Hokkaido, the Yellow Sea, and Taiwan. It inhabits shallow sandy muddy areas near the mouths of estuaries in inner bays. Its standard Japanese name is Sappa, and its length reaches 15 cm. Juvenile fish can be caught in large numbers in small fixed nets, but It has little market value and are treated as small fish.
The morphology and ecology of this species are similar to that of the Gizzard shad (Konoshiro) throughout the egg, juvenile, and young stages, but the adult fish clearly differ in body color and dorsal fin shape. In Japanese scaled sardine, the blue on the dorsal side and the white on the ventral side are clearly separated and vivid. Its scientific name is Sardinella zunasi (Bleeker, 1854).
What does Japanese scaled sardine (Mamakari) sushi taste like?
In Okayama, Japanese scaled sardine, a close relative of gizzard shad, is called Mamakari and is highly prized. It is in season from fall to winter and is the finest Mamakari with fine texture and fat.
Fresh Mamakari nigiri sushi, lightly vinegared, has a unique Okayama flavor that is different from that of Gizzard shad (Kohada). One thing to note is that, as with other herring species, there are many small bones, so it is easier to eat them if they are pickled in vinegar. It can be said that it is a dish that refreshes the palate and whets the appetite.
Barfin flounder (Matsukawagarei) is distributed along the Pacific coast north of Ibaraki Prefecture and in the Sea of Japan north of Toyama Prefecture, the southern Sea of Okhotsk, and the Kurile Islands. It inhabits sandy muddy areas at depths of up to 200 m, feeding mainly on crustaceans and small fishes. The maximum length of the body is 80 cm.
It is similar in appearance to the closely related Spotted halibut, but the Barfin flounder has banded black spots on its fins, while the Spotted halibut has circular ones. The name ” Matsukawagarei ” is said to come from its scales, which are hard and resemble the epidermis of a pine tree. Barfin flounder is now very rare in the wild, and most of the fish caught are released juveniles. This is based on the habit of flounder species to remain in the waters where they are released. The main production areas are Hokkaido, Aomori, and Iwate prefectures, and the season is winter. The scientific name isVerasper moseri Jordan & Gilbert, 1898.
What does Barfin flounder (Matsukawagarei) sushi taste like?
Barfin flounder (Matsukawagarei) tastes better in larger sizes, and the males are tastier than the females. Its flesh is firm, and when fresh, it tastes better when thinly sliced. The umami increases after about two days of maturing, as is the case with other flounders.
Barfin flounder, along with spotted halibut, is a high-end fish, and if asked which is more delicious, barfin flounder or spotted halibut, most people would probably say spotted halibut. However, the reason may be that they are not familiar with Barfin flounder. As proof of this, you will almost never see it at high-end sushi restaurants in Tokyo, but it is not that uncommon at high-end restaurants in Sapporo.
Silver pomfret (Managatsuo) is distributed in a wide range of waters from Hokkaido to the southern Sea of Japan, the Pacific Ocean, the Seto Inland Sea, the Ariake Sea and other seas around Japan to the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean.
They feed on crustaceans such as jellyfish and krill as well as plankton while migrating in schools to sandy muddy bottoms on continental shelves at depths of around 200 m or in the surface layer not far from the coast.
The name “Managatsuo” might lead you to think that it is a member of the Katsuo family, but it is not at all, it is a member of the Ibdai family. Its name comes from the fact that Katsuo could not be caught in the Seto Inland Sea, so this species was called Katsuo. So, it is said that the name was derived from “mane katsuo,” which imitated katsuo.
It is also said that there is no salmon in the Kansai region and no Managatsuo in the Kanto region. In the Kanto region, it is a rare fish, but in the Chubu region and west, especially in the Kansai region, it is a high-class fish that is often used in ryotei and kappo restaurants. It is also used in French and Chinese cuisine, so it is familiar to a wide variety of chefs.
What does Silver pomfret (Managatsuo) sushi taste like?
Silver pomfret (Managatsuo) has a shiny body that looks like it has been stamped with silver foil, and the sashimi is superb, but this is only in Kansai where fresh fish is available.
The flesh is shiromi, soft and smooth, with little fat and a light flavor. Not only sashimi, but saikyo-zuke (fish pickled in sweet Kyoto-style miso) is also an excellent dish. Also, it can be frozen and preserved while it is still fresh, as it does not lose its flavor when frozen compared to other fish.
Silver pomfret has 70.8 grams of water per 100 grams, more than Japanese spanish mackerel (Sawara), a typical watery fish. This is a fish that, in the past, would not be suitable for nigiri sushi at all. Besides, fresh ones are difficult to obtain in the Kanto region, so sushi topping is almost never offered at Edomae sushi restaurants. But when it is made into shiojime and the moisture is controlled, it is a first-class sushi topping.
Recently, young sushi chefs in Tokyo have discovered its deliciousness and have begun to make it. This sushi topping goes well with shari made with red vinegar, which contains a lot of amino acids. In any case, sushi topping is rare, so if you can find it, you should definitely try it.
Bigeyed greeneye (Mehikari) is distributed south of Sagami Bay to the East China Sea. They live in groups on continental shelf slopes at depths of 200 to 600 meters. Mehikari (standard Japanese name is Aome-eso) with large, striking green eyes are about 20 cm long. Its body is elongated and cylindrical, and it has an issuer around its anus, where bacteria living symbiotically inside emit light. The season is winter, and the main production areas are Fukushima, Shizuoka, Miyazaki and Aichi prefectures.
What does Bigeyed greeneye (Mehikari) sushi taste like?
Bigeyed greeneye (Mehikari), despite its appearance, is a delicious fish with light white flesh and a fluffy texture. However, since it is caught by bottom trawl fishing, it is only available for sashimi within two days of being caught, and the amount of fresh fish in distribution is rather small. Therefore, it is difficult to eat nigiri sushi outside of the area where it is caught. The sushi topping is a specialty of Sushi Itou in Iwaki City.
Flying fish (Tobiuo) is distributed in warm seas south of central Honshu and around Taiwan, living in the surface layer from the coast to offshore. Its body length is about 30 cm. Its body is long and slender, and its pectoral fins are large and wing-like, used for flying above the sea surface.
It migrates northward from southern Japan in the spring with rising water temperatures and southward in the autumn with falling water temperatures. Flying fish usually migrate near the surface of the ocean in schools, reaching speeds of 35 km/h on the surface and 55 km/h in the air, depending on the species and size of the flying fish. They also glide like gliders at a height of 4 to 5 meters and a distance of 100 to 500 meters in a single flight.
The name Tobiuo (Flying fish) is used as a generic name for the Exocoetidae, but the Narrowtongue flyingfish, which is typical of the waters around Japan, is distinguished by the name Hon-tobi. It is 30 to 35 cm in length and migrate northward in schools on the Kuroshio Current, approaching the coast from April to July to spawn. Another representative Tobiuo is the slightly smaller Dark-edged-winged flyingfish (Hoso-tobi), also known as Maru-tobi or Nyubai-tobi. The scientific name is Cypselurus agoo (Temminck and Schlegel, 1846).
What does Flying fish (Tobiuo) sushi taste like?
Flying fish (Tobiuo) is fresh if it has a shiny surface and shiny blue-black back, and if its eyes are clear. The freshness of the flying fish is also assured by the fact that its digestive tract is small and the food it eats is immediately expelled from the digestive tract. Fresh fish is the best choice for sashimi. The flesh is slightly soft, not too watery, light, and has no peculiar taste. However, sushi topping is not generally used for Edomae sushi.
Flying fish is also called “Ago” in Japanese. “Ago” is the dialect around Nagasaki. Flying fish, which contains less fat than other fish, is dried and used as dashi (fish stock). Dashi of dried flying fish is called “Ago-dashi”. This is one of the highest-quality dashi.
Spotted knifejaw (Ishigakidai) is distributed along the Pacific coast south of Ibaraki Prefecture and along the Sea of Japan south of Yamaguchi Prefecture to the South China Sea. It inhabits mainly rocky reefs. The length of the body reaches 90 cm.
The ecology and habits are similar to those of Barred knifejaw (Ishidai), but young fish are generally brownish with numerous blackish-brown stone wall (stone wall is ishigaki in Japanese) patterns scattered throughout the body. As the fish grows, the pattern becomes lighter, and in male adults it disappears completely. The season is summer.
What does Spotted knifejaw (Ishigakidai) sushi taste like?
The meat of Spotted knifejaw (Ishigakidai) is firmer and tighter than that of Red seabream (Madai), and it is so chewy that it feels too hard to make sashimi if it has just died. Therefore, like puffer fish, usuzukuri (thinly sliced) is used for sashimi and sushi topping.
Spotted knifejaw has a more subtle scent of the sea than barred knifejaw. The color of chiai (dark red meat) is not a bright red, but rather a duller shade, but the meat is surprisingly fatty and delicious.
Nigiri sushi is also good with salt and kabosu. Its umami is thought to arise from eating sea urchins, shellfish and crustaceans. Both nigiri sushi and sashimi are rare in Tokyo, but common in Shikoku and Kyushu.
Blackfin Seabass (Hirasuzuki) prefer warmer waters and are distributed south of the Boso Peninsula on the Pacific Ocean side, and south of Hokuriku on the Sea of Japan side, as well as in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. Juveniles and young fish may be found near estuaries that connect to the open ocean, but as they mature, they move to areas of higher salinity and are not found in the brackish waters near estuaries.
It is very similar to the Japanese sea bass (Suzuki) only in the same genus, but is taller and more strongly laterally flattened than the Japanese sea bass. A large Blackfin Seabass exceeds 1 meter. The scientific name is Lateolabrax latus Katayama, 1957.
What does Blackfin Seabass (Hirasuzuki) sushi taste like?
Blackfin Seabass is in season during the cold season, the opposite of Japanese sea bass. Unlike Japanese sea bass, blackfin seabass has a bright red, clear white flesh with no black streaks in the flesh. This makes it look better than Japanese sea bass when served as nigiri or sashimi. Another reason for the high price is that there are few arrivals at Toyosu Market. It used to fetch more than blackthroat seaperch (Nodoguro).
Blackfin Seabass are firm and fatty. Unlike Japanese sea bass, which lives in brackish water, Blackfin Seabass does not have a muddy smell, perhaps because it lives on rough reefs connected to the open sea. It is often described as having a taste similar to Isaki or Tai, for example, with a refined flavor and a sweet aftertaste. It is a top-quality fish that can replace Hirame, which is a representative winter shiromi.
Silver croaker (Ishimochi or Shiroguchi) is distributed in the Tohoku region and southwards, the East China Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the western Pacific Ocean. It is mainly found on sandy mud bottoms at depths of 20~140m. Its body color is shiny silvery white with somewhat indistinct black spots on the tops of its gill covers. The Japanese name Ishimochi (Ishimochi means having the stones) is derived from the presence of large calcareous otoliths within the skull bones. The length of the body is about 40 cm. The season is summer. Caught in large quantities in the East China Sea by bottom trawl fishing, it is mainly used as a raw material for high-grade fish paste. The scientific name is Pennahia argentata (Houttuyn,1782).
What does Silver croaker (Ishimochi) sushi taste like?
Silver croaker (Ishimochi) can be eaten raw if fresh, and it goes well with vinegared rice. Its clear white flesh has a firm texture, but it is somewhat watery, so it is best served as sujime or yubiki.
There are many delicious white fish, but in terms of individuality, Silver croaker may be the top level among sushi toppings. Conversely, I am once again impressed by the power of vinegared rice that catches the peculiarities of Silver croaker. In the Kanto region, it is a popular fish for salted grilled fish, and it takes on a completely different flavor when grilled.
Black skipjack (Suma) is a migratory fish widely distributed from temperate to tropical zones in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In the waters around Japan, it is found mainly in southern Japan, including Kyushu, Shikoku, and Okinawa. Because it does not form large schools, it is rarely caught in large quantities at one time and therefore is not sold in large quantities in the market.
It is a member of the mackerel family, so it is written “縞鰹 (striped bonito)” in Chinese characters because of its distinctive wave-like stripes. it resembles Bonito but can be distinguished by the presence of several black dots between the ventral and pectoral fins. Adults are about 40-50 cm in length, with the larger ones reaching about 1 m in length and some individuals weighing as much as 10 kg. In Micronesia and the Hawaiian Islands, it is an important food fish. The scientific name is Euthynnus affinis (Cantor, 1849).
What does Black skipjack (Suma) sushi taste like?
Black skipjack (Suma) is a lean fish with thin skin and not so hard bones. Chiai (dark red meat) is bigger, though not as big as bonito. The flesh is lighter red than Frigate tuna, slightly softer, and greasier. The taste is lighter than Oriental Bonito.
Black skipjack, which is fatty, tastes like toro all over. Because of its outstanding flavor, it is also attracting attention as a substitute fish for tuna. Besides, its flesh does not shrink much when heated, making it suitable for a variety of dishes. The broth made from ara (bony parts) has a strong flavor and is a sign of a delicious fish. Some sushi restaurants are already using it as a sushi topping under another name, Yaito-gatsuo.
Tokobushi abalone is widely distributed from southern Hokkaido to Kyushu and Taiwan. It inhabits the reef zones along the coasts facing the open ocean in warm seas. It is oval in shape and has a shell length of 7 cm. In the past, people thought that the Tokobushi abalone was the child of the abalone.
Abalone has four to five water absorption holes, which are tubular, while Tokobushi abalone has six to nine water absorption holes, and the holes are more numerous and larger than those of abalone. Based on the amount of Tokobushi abalone caught, Kochi, Tokushima, and Mie prefectures are the production areas.
The average wholesale price of Tokobushi abalone at the Toyosu market is around US$30 per kilogram. Since domestic catches alone cannot keep up with demand, a large number of imports, mainly from Taiwan, are also distributed. The scientific name is Sulculus diversicolor supertexta (Lischke, 1870). A substitute is Luzon Tokobushi (Haliotis(Sulculus) glabra Gmelin, 1791), which is mainly processed into canned products.
Incidentally, Kinki University, which has succeeded in the complete cultivation of bluefin tuna, has been conducting research on Tokobushi abalone cultivation since 2014. The university succeeded in artificial hatching in the same year, and is currently continuing its research with the aim of achieving complete aquaculture.
What does Tokobushi abalone sushi taste like?
Tokobushi abalone has a strong scent and taste similar to that of abalone, but its meat is smaller and thinner than that of other types of abalone (Japanese abalone (黒鮑), disk abalone (雌貝鮑), ezo abalone (蝦夷鮑), giant abalone (真高鮑)). Tokobushi abalone is generally not eaten raw, but rather boiled or steamed. Many sushi chefs say that when heated, the taste is richer than that of abalone.
Tokobushi abalone is sold in the market throughout the year, but in many fishing areas, winter is a closed season. While abalone, which is suitable for steamed shellfish, is in season in summer, Tokobushi abalone, on the contrary, is in season in winter and is used as an alternative to abalone for steamed shellfish in winter.
However, because the catch of Tokobushi abalone is decreasing and its price is high like that of abalone, few sushi restaurants use it. Compared to abalone, Tokobushi abalone is softer and does not get tough when heated, so it is boiled in soy sauce and sake to make Tsumami.
Golden threadfin bream (Itoyoridai) is distributed in Chiba Prefecture and southward except Ryukyu Islands, Korean Peninsula, East China Sea, South China Sea, Philippines, and Northern Australia. It has a low, slender body shape, is generally reddish yellow with 6~8 longitudinal yellow stripes on the body, and the upper lobe of the tail fin is elongated in a thread-like shape. It lives on muddy bottoms at depths of 40~100m and are 40~50cm long. Its season is from fall to winter.
The yellow stripes on its body are beautiful and do not fade after being caught, so it is often used for celebrations and festivals. It can be found in the market all year round, but the catch is not so large that it is in short supply. It is more highly prized in the Kansai region than in the Kanto region, where it is treated as a luxury fish. It is not a member of the bream family and used to be called Golden threadfin (Itoyori) without bream.
A closely related species, yellowbelly threadfin bream, is very similar, but the Toyosu market does not distinguish between the two and distributes them under the name Itoyori. There is almost no difference in taste. If anything, Yellowbelly threadfin bream (Nemipterus bathybius Snyder, 1911) is a bit softer than Golden threadfin bream (Nemipterus virgatus (Houttuyn, 1782)). Itoyori surimi is used to make Kamaboko (fish cake). It is one of the most important species of commercial fisheries.
What does Golden threadfin bream (Itoyoridai) sushi taste like?
Golden threadfin bream (Itoyoridai) is used widely in French and Italian cuisine because it has a light, natural flavor and does not shrink when heated. However, it has high water content, so its flesh is a bit softer when made into sashimi.
Golden threadfin bream has umami not only in its meat but also in its skin, so immersed it in boiling water quickly to retain its umami flavor and give it a beautiful appearance.
And then Kobujime makes nigiri sushi with a mild and elegant flavor. The fat between the skin and the flesh contains umami, so it is sometimes seared to give it a savory aroma.
Red cornetfish (Akayagara) is distributed mainly in warm seas around the world, from the seas around Japan south of central Honshu to the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. It inhabits depths shallower than 200 meters. They swim in small groups in rock and coral reefs’ upper layers. Adults are reddish brown, with each fin and belly side slightly paler and sticky without scales. The maximum length of the body is up to 2 m, one-third of which is the head, and the area from the tip of the mouth to the eye is long and tubular.
What does Red cornetfish (Akayagara) sushi taste like?
Only Red cornetfish (Fistularia petimba Lacepède, 1803) and Bluespotted cornetfish (Fistularia commersonii Rüppell, 1838) are edible in the waters around Japan. Red cornetfish is more frequently caught. Despite its odd appearance, Red cornetfish is known as a tasty fish and is in season in the summer when few fish are in season.
The taste is mild and light, the meat is firmer than many other white-fleshed fish. It does not become hard even after being heated and is delicious even when steamed. It is so refined and flavorful that it is served as sashimi at Ryotei (Japanese-style restaurants), and is naturally delicious as nigiri sushi. Considering the yield rate, it can be said to be a super-premium fish.