Ankimo Sushi
Monkfish liver

ankimo sushi

What is Ankimo あん肝 【鮑】?

Ankimo (あん肝) is a Japanese dish prepared from the liver (kimo, ) of a monkfish (ankou, 鮟鱇). It is also known as umi no foagura (海のフォアグラ) and is a delicacy that is very much sought-after in Japan. Ankimo is served as a starter in upscale restaurants that serve traditional Japanese food (washoku), Japanese multi-course haute cuisine (kaiseki ryori) or sushi. For the preparation, the blackmouth angler (ankou, アンコウ) and yellow goosefish (hon ankou, ホナンコウ), which are native to Japan, are preferred. More and more, their European and American relatives are also appearing in Japanese kitchens.

Ankimo for Sushi and Sashimi

Ankou are large and unappealing but extremely tasty, especially their liver. Ankimo's taste is very rich, less like fish, creamy but at the same time very light and tender. The soft texture gives a velvety feeling on the tongue and the high fat content makes ankimo melt in the mouth. Ankimo is often served with grated daikon radish with chili (momiji-oroshi, もみじおろし), finely chopped Japanese bunching onion (negi, ネギ) and/or a citrus-based seasoning sauce (ponzu, ポン酢). Unlike most Japanese sushi dishes, ankimo should not be combined with soy sauce, as it spoils the delicate taste of ankimo too much. It should be served cool, but slightly above refrigerator temperature.

Ankimo is not exclusive to Japanese cuisine. In France, ankimo is known as foie de lotte. In Spain, the monkfish liver is called Hígado de rape and is highly appreciated.

After the fish has been filleted, the liver is first rubbed with salt and rinsed with alcohol (sake, ). Carefully, the liver is freed from its large blood vessels, possibly parasites and membrane skin. It is then cooked in a cylinder made of aluminum foil. Ankimo is rich in vitamins, protein and minerals. However, mercury compounds ingested in the fish's diet also accumulate in the liver, so it is best to refrain from eating large quantities of ankimo.

Best Season

Traditionally, ankimo is a winter recipe in Japan, outside Japan it is often to be found in high-class sushi restaurants all year round.

Characteristics & Ecology

Ankou have an extremely large, broad and flattened head with a huge mouth with strong teeth. The lower jaw, the head and body sides are lined with skin appendages. The upper side of the ankou is dark in colour, the underside is white. Since the ankou does not have a swim bladder, it is found mainly on sandy or muddy sea beds. Ankou are lurkers and ambush their prey. For this purpose they use a particularly long dorsal fin as an “angle”, in which they move it back and forth in front of their gullet. If the victim, hoping to make prey himself, now moves towards it, the trap snaps shut. By opening its mouth extremely fast the monkfish creates a negative pressure from which there is no escape for its victim. Large species also hunt larger prey such as eels, flatfish, rays and even diving seabirds.

Selection of relevant species

Japanese nameCommon name
American angler
Lophius americanus
Blackmouth angler
Lophiomus setigerus
Yellow goosefish
Lophius litulon
Olive angler
Lophiodes miacanthus
European angler
Lophius piscatorius
Natal angler
Lophiodes insidiator
Devil anglerfish
Lophius vomerinus


The dominant method of catching anglerfish is unfortunately still bottom trawling. This type of fishing is harmful to marine habitats on the seafloor. This gives the otherwise delicious ankimo a morally bitter aftertaste.

The diagram shows the global production of Ankou (engl. anglerfish) from 1950 to 2018.


© How To Sushi. How to Prep Monkfish Liver (Ankimo)【Sushi Chef Eye View】. 2017-11-28,



For copyright and author information, see the "Image Credits" section.

References & further reading

  • [Favre, 2010]: Joseph Favre. Practical universal kitchen dictionary (Dictionnaire universel de cuisine pratique). Place des éditeurs. 2010
  • [Grescoe, 2012]: Taras Grescoe. Dead Seas: How the fish on our plates is killing our planet. Pan Macmillan, Basingstoke. 2012
  • [Kadowaki et al., 2015]: Kadowaki Toshiya (門脇俊哉), Aihara Takateru (粟飯原崇光), Hashimoto Mikizō (橋本幹造), Kobayashi Yūji (小林雄二), Ōhara Makoto (大原誠). Seasonal appetizers and entrées (季節を彩るお通しと前菜). Natsumesha, Tokyo (ナツメ社, 東京都). 2015
  • [Mouritsen et al., 2014]: Ole Mouritsen, Klavs Styrbæk, Mariela Johansen. Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste. Columbia University Press, New York. 2014
  • [Sakagami, 2019]: Nick Sakagami. Sushi Master: An expert guide to sourcing, making and enjoying sushi at home. Quarry Books, Beverly. 2019

Image credits



Drawn illustration for  ankimo

Common names

monkfish liver, sea-devil liver, frog-fish liver, goosefish liver

Japanese names

  • ankimo (アンキモ)


Scientific name

Familia Lophiidae iecur




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