What is Akame アカメ 【赤目】?
The Japanese term for the Japanese lates is akame (アカメ, literally "red eye"). For a long time it was considered to be the same species as the barramundi, only since the recent times it is scientifically distinguished between both fishes. The Japanese lates is a rare fish, so if you see akame on the menu or in a saramori, it is possible that it is indeed the barramundi.
Akame for Sushi and Sashimi
Its light and firm meat is well suited for the preparation of sushi and sashimi. The meat is white and slightly transparent. The taste is light, accompanied by a subtle sweetness and minerlaic aromas. The taste of the Akame meat is similar to that of its relative, the Japanese sea bass (suzuki). Freshness and quick processing are decisive for the good taste. The taste clearly gains in quality when the meat or fish is aged under controlled conditions.
Akame in Japan
Akame belongs beside Itō (イトウ) and Biwa-kōonamazu (ビワコオオナマズ) to one of the three big "phantom fishes" (kai-gyo, 怪魚) in Japan. Since 2017, an akame is again part of the exhibition at Toba Aquarium of Mie Prefecture.
The translation of the word akame from Japanese means "red eye" and symbolically describes the reflection of his eyes, which shimmer reddish in the light.
Characteristics & Ecology
The distribution area of akame extends along the southern Pacific coast of the Japanese archipelago, with a main area extending from Kochi Prefecture to Miyazaki.
Adult specimens have a silvery white color. Juvenile fishes have a dark brown color, yellow-white lines on the forehead and yellow-white stripes and spots on the body side, which distinguishes them from adult fishes. Adult fish are large with a total length of over 1 m. Akame is carnivorous and feeds mainly on small fish. They are nocturnal, very alert and often enter brackish water areas at night or on rainy days. As a bottom-dweller restricted to the habitats of estuaries and large rivers in the eastern coastal areas of the country, it is threatened by habitat destruction. The stocks are also threatened by systematic deterioration of environmental conditions in brackish water, such as a sharp decline in seagrass stocks, and the lack of food caused by industrial fishing. In order to protect the existing stocks, since 2006 it is prohibited to catch akame in Miyazaki Prefecture.
For a long time it was assumed that akame and barramundi are one and the same species, only in 1984 akame could be scientifically described as an independent species (Katayama and Taki, 1984). Akame was already known to fishermen in Japan, but its relative rarity earned it the reputation of a "phantom fish".
Since akame is a rare species, it accordingly does not play a major role in commercial fishing. Only sports fishermen and regional fisheries land akame sporadically. A possible mix-up with the barramundi-catch is to be considered.