Red flesh

A photo of Akami nigiri
Lean meat of tuna (Akami)

Lean meat of tuna (Akami)

【Nigiri sushi: Akami】
What is Akami?
Tuna is divided into Toro and Akami according to their meat quality. Generally, Toro is the belly side flesh that encases the internal organs. Akami is mostly found on the back side and contains less fat than Toro.

Akami, however, has a unique richness. This is due to its higher protein content compared to Toro. The synergistic effect of the various amino acids contained in fish protein and the inosinic acid in umami gives it a deep flavor. Toro contains only 20% protein, while Akami contains nearly 25%, and the difference is obvious.

Among the Akami, the Senaka (Lower part of the dorsal fin) cuts are the most prized. The Tenpa and Chiagishi around the backbone are the more expensive parts, with a smooth texture and elegant acidity.

Incidentally, tuna connoisseurs consider the best tuna to be the leaner and somewhat darker reddish meat rather than toro. The reason for the reddish-black color is that the pigment myoglobin, which is bright red at first, gradually changes to dark red metmyoglobin over time, and the taste itself has not deteriorated.

In this state, when the red meat is placed in the mouth, it absorbs saliva and latches onto the tongue. Moreover, when it is chewed, a large amount of juice containing taste components slowly seeps out from the inside of the fish. When freshly caught, tuna is tough and tasteless. In order to make good red meat, the tuna must be stored and maturing for at least a week, or even longer for the larger ones.

Around 1840, a place called Ebisu-zushi in Edo / Bakurocho area sold nigiri "Zuke" which is red meat having been put in soy sauce. This became popular and spread quickly throughout Edo city.

【Related contents】

Learn more about Zuke

Why is sushi eaten with sushi sauce (shoyu)?

What is Jukusei sushi?

What makes good quality Kuromaguro?

Do you know what kind of Tuna you’re eating at a sushi restaurant?

List of Red flesh fish (Akami)

(Revision date: December 29, 2023)

Main production area

Hokkaido Aomori Wakayama Miyazaki

Famous production area

Ooma Toi Minmaya Aburatsu Funkawan Sado Iki Nachikatsuura