What is Biwa trout sushi?

a photo of Biwa masu
Biwa masu (Biwa trout) nigiri served at Kyogoku zushi.

What is Biwa trout?

Biwa trout is a species of fish native to Lake Biwa, but is also found in Lake Kizaki, Lake Chuzenji, Lake Ashi, and other lakes through transplantation. The Japanese name for Biwa trout is Biwa masu (琵琶鱒). As indicated by its scientific name, Oncorhynchus masou subsp., it is considered to be a subspecies of Satsukimasu (Red-spotted masu trout). It reaches up to 60 cm, and the spots on the body are pale orange and disappear with growth. The adult one has a silver colored body.

It has also been farmed in Japan for a long time. There is even a famous Biwa trout farm near Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture that has been in operation since 1878.

An interesting fact about Biwa trout is that it is a landlocked variety of Pacific Salmon while being anadromous as it moves between the freshwater lake Biwa and surrounding rivers according to the water temperature as part of its life cycle.

What does Biwa trout sushi taste like?

The natural Biwa trout season is from June to early September. At this time of year, it has no peculiar flavor and has large amounts of fat with refined sweetness. When you put it in your mouth, only the delicious flavor of the fat spreads out as if it were melting softly. The rich flavor of trout can also be fully enjoyed as a sushi topping.

Sushi restaurants in Shiga prefecture, such as Kyogoku-zushi, serve Biwa masu nigiri sushi during the summer months. Ordinary Ikura is red in color because salmon go down to the sea and feed on crabs and shrimps, taking in red pigment. Biwa masu, on the other hand, grows only in lakes, so it does not take in any pigment and its eggs remain golden. Kyogoku-zushi also offers this Golden Ikura sushi. Both are rarely seen at sushi restaurants in Tokyo.


We hope this information will be helpful.

Revision date: February 7, 2023

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