Buri Sushi
Japanese amberjack

What is Buri ブリ【鰤】?

A Japanese yellowtail or amberjack that measures about over 80 cm (~31 inch) is called buri in Japanese. In other words, buri refers to a large and adult hamachi. They belong to the family of jacks and pompanos and are considered to be an important ingredient for Sushi or Sashimi.

Farmed Buri are nowadays usually referred to as Hamachi, since Buri do not grow old in breeding and therefore do not reach their full size.

Buri for Sushi and Sashimi

The flavor of Buri is intense and accompanied by subtle sour aromas. The meat is medium-firm and has a full-bodied buttery flavor. Because of the high fat content, soy sauce does not stick well to the surface. Wasabi or grated radish pairs better as garnish.

In contrast to a young Buri, which is called Hamachi, the meat of the Buri is darker and more reddish in appearance. The meat of hamachi, on the other hand, is light, pink and slightly translucent.

Best Season

When caught wild, the best season begins in early winter and ends at the beginning of spring. During this time the fish migrate south and gain fat. During this season the fish are also called "cold" or "winter buri" (kan-buri カンブリ, 寒ブリ). Important fishing areas at this time are the Japanese sea and the Pacific.

Since buri is increasingly farmed, it is available from aquaculture all year round in constant quality. Farmed buri are nowadays mostly referred to as hamachi.

Buri from Himi

Wild caught buri from the city of Himi (氷見市) in the prefecture of Toyama are considered to be particularly tasty and are therefore very sought after in Japan. The characters for Himi mean as much as “the city from which one looks at the ice“. It is therefore reasonable to assume that Himi has optimal fishing grounds for catching buri in winter. Highly appreciated are himi-kan-buri (ヒミ寒ブリ) which weigh more than 10 kg (176 lbs) which are particularly rich in fat.

So if you visit the region of toyama in winter, make a stop in Himi and try himi-kan-buri in one of the local restaurants.

White or red meat?

Occasionally buri is categorized as a white fish (shiromi-sakana, 白身魚, しろみさかな), although it is actually a fish with red meat (akami-sakana, 赤身魚, あかみさかな). Whitefish are mostly coastal groundfish and prefer flat, sandy or rocky habitats. In contrast to red-fleshed fish, which prefer the open sea, they only travel short distances and require less oxygen for muscle supply. Their body is therefore less muscular and is predominantly made up of white muscle fibers. Responsible for the red coloration of muscles is myoglobin, which serves to transport oxygen into the cells. However, the meat of a buri is so heavily interspersed with fat that it appears visibly brighter and can therefore deceive one into thinking that it is not a fish with actually red meat.

Name depending on growth and size

Buri is a fish whose name changes during its growth, which is called “rising fish“. The names used vary according to local customs and size. The designation for juveniles varies greatly, especially in the context of sport fishing. Regardless of fishology and regional preferences, the names wakana for small, hamachi for medium-sized and buri for large specimens are familiar to most chefs in sushi gastronomy.

The illustration shows how the name of the fish depends on its size.

The following table gives a more specific overview of the regional names during the growth process:

RegionNames
Hiroshima
広島県
yazu → hamachi → buri
ヤズ → ハマチ → ブリ
Hokuriku
北陸
tsubaeri → kozukura → fukuragi → aoburi → hanajiro → buri
ツバエリ → コズクラ → フクラギ → アオブリ → ハナジロ → ブリ
Kansai
関西
tsubasu → hamachi → mejiro → buri
ツバス → ハマチ → メジロ → ブリ
Kanto
関東
wakashi → inada → warasa → buri
ワカシ → イナダ → ワラサ → ブリ
Kyushu
九州
wakanago → yazu → hamachi → mejiro → buri → oouo
ワカナゴ → ヤズ → ハマチ → メジロ → ブリ → オオウオ
Nagano
長野県
inada → hamachi → buri
イナダ → ハマチ → ブリ
Sanin
長野県
shoujigo → wakana → mejiro → hamachi → buri
ショウジゴ → ワカナ → メジロ → ハマチ → ブリ
Shikoku
四国
yazu → hamachi → buri
ヤズ → ハマチ → ブリ
Shimokita
下北地方
fukuragi → inada → warasa → buri
フクラギ → イナダ → ワラサ → ブリ
Tohoku
東北
tsube → inada → ao → buri
ツベ → イナダ → アオ → ブリ
Toyama
富山県
tsubaiso → kozukura → fukuragi → gando → buri
ツバイソ → コズクラ → フクラギ → ガンド → ブリ
Yamaguchi
山口県
yazu → hamachi → buri
ヤズ → ハマチ → ブリ

Buri vs. Kanpachi vs. Hiramasa

In Japan there are three species of Seriola: Buri, kanpachi and hiramasa. All have a seamless yellow band along the body, but it is difficult to distinguish these species from each other from their external appearance. So it is quite possible that one of the fishes is used as a substitute for the other, knowingly or unknowingly. It is worth mentioning that the catch or production quantities of kanpachi and hiramasa together make up only about 5% of the total.

Common nameJapanese nameProduction quantity 2018 (FAO)
Japanese amberjack or yellowtail
Seriola quinqueradiata
Buri
ブリ
138 900 t
Greater amberjack or yellowtail
Seriola dumerili
Kanpachi
カンパチ
3 470 t
Southern yellowtail amberjack
Seriola lalandi
Hiramasa
ヒラマサ
3 281 t

Characteristics & Ecology

Buri is a swarm-forming predatory fish that feeds mainly on smaller fish, squid or crustaceans. A striking feature is its lateral yellow band that runs along its blue back from head to tail. The usual length of buri is about 100 cm with a weight between 5 and 7 kg. With their long and strong body they can reach speeds of over 50 kilometers per hour. Their distribution extends mainly along the Japanese archipelago across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. Buri is migratory and moves southwards into warmer waters during the winter.

Economy

The diagram shows the distribution of the production quantity of buri (Japanese name of the Japanese amberjack or yellowtail, Seriola quinqueradiata) from aquaculture and wild caught.
Chart showing the monthly wholesale volume and the average price of buri in the Tsukiji & Toyosu market in Japan.

Warnings

As a general rule, do not eat ingredients that are not explicitly labeled for raw consumption.

Seafood from particularly coastal or land-locked waters may be contaminated by varying amounts of industrial chemicals, including heavy metals and pesticides. These pollutants could accumulate in concentrations that, if consumed regularly, may cause health problems

The use of unauthorized drugs or misuse of authorized drugs in seafood aquaculture poses a potential risk to human health. Only eat raw seafood from production facilities whose products are approved for raw consumption.

The naturally have high levels of enzymes causes the meat to let it rot quickly. It is therefore essential to maintain an appropriate cold chain until prompt processing. Histamine is not destroyed by normal cooking temperatures, so even properly cooked fish can still result in poisoning.

References & further reading

  • [Froese & Daniel, 2019]: Rainer Froese, Pauly Daniel. FishBase. The Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of Kiel, FishBase.org. 2019. Retrieved online on: December 24, 2020
  • [Fujiwara, 2020]: Masataka Fujiwara 昌髙藤原. Bozu Konyaku's Market Fish and Shellfish Book ぼうずコンニャクの市場魚貝類図鑑. Bozu Konnyaku Co., Ltd., Tokyo ぼうずコンニャク株式会社東京, zukan-bouz.com. 2020
  • [Seafood Watch, 2016]: Seafood Watch, Consulting Researcher. Yellowtail, Seriola spp., Japan, Marine Net Pens, Aquaculture Standard Version A2. Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey. 2016. Retrieved online on: December 24, 2020

Information

Illustration

Drawn illustration for  buri

Common names

amberjack, japanese amberjack, yellowtail

Japanese names

  • aoburi (アオブリ)
  • aoko (アオコ)
  • buri (ブリ)
  • fukurage (フクラゲ)
  • fukuragi (フクラギ)
  • gando (ガンド)
  • gandoburi (ガンドブリ)
  • hamachi (ハマチ)
  • hanajiro (ハナジロ)
  • inada (イナダ)
  • inara (イナラ)
  • kozukura (コズクラ)
  • marugo (マルゴ)
  • meji (メジ)
  • mejiro (メジロ)
  • mojakko (モジャッコ)
  • mojako (モジャコ)
  • ooio (オオイオ)
  • shokko (ショッコ)
  • shoujingo (ショウジンゴ)
  • suzuina (スズイナ)
  • tsubaiso (ツバイソ)
  • tsubasu (ツバス)
  • wa machi (ワ マチ)
  • wakana (ワカナ)
  • wakana tsubasu (ワカナ ツバス)
  • wakanago (ワカナゴ)
  • wakashi (ワカシ)
  • wakashi inada (ワカシ イナダ)
  • warasa (ワラサ)
  • yazu (ヤズ)

Scientific name

Seriola quinqueradiata

Family

Trevallies

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