What is Akamutsu アカムツ【赤鯥】?
Akamutsu belongs to the family of lantern bellies and is highly valued in Japan as a premium seafood and sushi ingredient. Besides the name akamutsu it also carries the very common name nodoguro.
Some connoisseurs refer to its meat as “white toro”, which is in no way inferior in taste and texture to the fatty meat of tuna.
Akamutsu for Sushi and Sashimi
Akamutsu owes its first-class reputation as a gourmet fish to its extremely high fat content. Under its skin is a distinctive layer of fat that gives the whitish meat a certain sweetness, hence its nickname "white toro". Whether raw or cooked, its meat has a unique and elegant taste. The meat is soft and has a wonderfully full-bodied umami taste. Akamutsu harmonizes very well with sushi rice (shari, しゃり) and is therefore appreciated not only as sashimi but also as nigiri sushi.
Akamutsu is very tasty regardless of the season, but the best season is considered to be late winter to spring, before it spawns in late summer.. The fish is fatty regardless of the season and is popular throughout Japan, especially in urban areas.
Akamutsu in Japan
In Hamada, a city in Shimane Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, akamutsu is known as nodoguro, a local specialty that is regularly mentioned in tourist guides. Its name nodoguro, loosely translated as "blackthroat", is due to the dark coloring on the back of its mouth. Nodoguro or akamutsu is mainly caught in the Sea of Japan, the side of Japan facing away from the Pacific Ocean, and is found along the coast from Toyama to Shimane and is appreciated as a regional delicacy throughout the Hokuriku region.
Akamutsu is considered sensitive to changes in its living conditions. Fluctuating water temperatures and changes in the supply of food are said to have a significant impact on the quality of the catch. Top specimens of akamutsu are traded at comparatively high prices, it is not unusual for particularly good specimen to achieve prices of up to over 10,000 ¥ per kilo.
Breeding of Akamutsu
In July 2013, a research group from the Nihonkai-ku Fisheries Research Institute announced that akamutsu had succeeded in being raised in aquaculture for the first time, allowing them to be transferred to their natural habitat. In February 2017, it was confirmed that one of the released Akamutsu juvenile fish was able to survive in the wild. The specimen was found as by-catch in the net of a shrimp fisher. The discovery raises hopes for a more stable market supply and the protection of natural stocks. On the other hand, it was also observed that there are very few females among the adult fish raised by artificial insemination. These and other aspects are still the subject of current research.
Characteristics & Ecology
Akamtusu lives in sea depths of 100 to 600 m and feeds mainly on smaller fishes as well as crustaceans and molluscs. The usual length is 30 cm with a maximum of 40 cm. Its range extends from the Japanese sea over the western Pacific Ocean to Australia.