What is Binnaga ビンナガ 【鬢長】?
In Japanese, the albacore tuna is called binnaga. It is a relatively small species of tuna (maguro). Binnaga is considered a valuable edible fish and is of great economic importance. In recent years, his meat has become increasingly popular for making sushi or sashimi even outside Japan.
Binnaga as an Ingredient for Sushi and Sashimi
For sushi and sashimi, mainly individuals caught in cold regions are suitable. In contrast to specimens from warmer regions, these have a significantly higher fat content. The fat meat of these fish is called bintoro>, occasionally the term is also used for whole specimens from cold regions. Binnaga from warm waters, on the other hand, lack the necessary fat content to produce a full-bodied umami flavor. The fatty meat is tasty and preferred for the preparation of sushi and sashimi. The lean red meat (akami, あかみ), on the other hand, is less interesting and is rarely used as an ingredient for sushi or sashimi.
The remarkably bright, fatty meat is slightly sweetish, barely sour, very tender and melts well on the tongue. A common method of preparation is the tataki method (たたき), in which the meat is heated briefly and then quenched with ice water. This keeps the meat inside still raw, the texture gains firmness and its taste becomes more aromatic. The meat of the binnaga should be light in color, from white-pink to deep pink and should not show any bloodstains or bruises.
Compared to other tunas, binnaga is much cheaper, milder in taste, paler in color and less firm. Binnaga is usually found fresh, smoked or processed as high quality canned fish. It is one of the most economically significant edible fish of our time and is considered a popular main ingredient or side dish in many dishes worldwide. Binnaga is regularly used as a filling for Japanese rice balls (onigiri, お握り) which are offered in Japanese convenience stores (konbini, コンビニ). Binnaganigiri-zushi or sashimi is a popular ingredient in cheap sushi restaurants, supermarkets and conveyor belt sushi restaurants (kaitenzushi, 回転寿司).
Characteristics & Ecology
Adult binnaga reach a total length of 140 cm and weigh 60 kg. However, most landed fish have a size of 50 to 100 cm. Binnaga is a worldwide common deep-sea fish, which is mainly found in the upper and middle layers of water and penetrates in depths of at least 380 meters in the Pacific and up to 600 meters in the Atlantic. They cover very large distances and form groups with other conspecifics of the same age. Its preferred water-temperature is between approximately 16 and 20°C. As a predatory fish, it feeds on a wide range of smaller schooling fish, crustaceans and squid.