Binomial: Euthynnus affinis
English: Mackerel Tuna
Japanese: Suma-Katsuo


sashimi, tataki

m_katsuo01This is Suma. Euthynnus affinis, or mackerel tuna. Amongst all Tuna family, I think it’s the tastiest. The flesh is dark red. The taste is rich and juicy. So tasty.

It’s got black dots on the belly under the pectoral fin. When you see those dots, whatever you do, DO NOT throw away the fish!

Katsuwonus_pelamisThis is common Katsuo, or skipjack tuna, Katsuwonus pelamis. This is the fish that has captured the Japanese fondness. It’s got the distinct stripes on the belly. They migrate from the tropics to subarctic waters in a large school, while Suma moves in small groups in tropical to sub-tropical waters. They migrate from the south to the north along Japan’s coast. We call them “the first katsuo”. The taste is refreshing and light. In the fall, they come back down the coast from the north. They carry fats now. We call them “returning Katsuo”. The taste is rich and juicy. So tasty.

This is called Mackerel Bonito, or Striped Bonito. Sarda orientalis. It’s got sharp teeth. The flesh is soft and watery, and pale pinkish in color. It’s not considered as delicacy as others but the taste is good. Especially at the end of summer when they start putting on some fats, the taste is just as good as other tunas. But sushi chefs don’t serve it usually because it can’t hold the shape of its own, it’s quick to go bad, and the color does not look like Katsuo. You should cook it to appreciate it.

Probably this fish makes me the happiest when catch it. Not only because it’s delicious, but also this fish is migratory and it’s a luck to encounter them unless you are chasing them particularly.
Among all tunas, I think this is the tastiest. Very rich in flavor. Full of essential amino acids and unsaturated fats. Because of that, the fishmeat is really fast to go bad. Lucky to be a fisherman to know exactly how fresh the fish is.
When we cut sashimi out of tuna, we remove the bloody meat which runs alongside of the spine, because it’s too fishy. But you don’t have to do that with this bonito family, even the bloody parts and the guts are tasty. But because it has a distinct flavor, it goes well with garlic, ginger, onions and other rather strong herbs and spices.

Tataki is a kind of sashimi. Grill just the surface of the fillet with skin on in open flame, traditionally straw flame, put it in iced water to stop the heat from reaching inside, and slice thick to sashimi. Tataki method removes the extra moisture and harshness of the flavor, condenses the taste, and adds smoky flavor.