What is Chirimaaji チリマアジ ?
Since the 1970s, the Chilean horse mackerel (chiri-maaji) developed into one of the most important commercial fish species in the world. Chiri-maaji is closely related to the Japanese horse mackerel (māji), so that this type is classified also by the Japanese as "real mackerel".
Chiri-maaji for Sushi and Sashimi
The meat is very soft, pink and fatty, regardless of its freshness. Especially fresh specimens have a more subtle taste. Besides being prepared as sushi or sashimi, it is also a popular dish when grilled or otherwise cooked. In the 1990s, Chilean horse mackerel played an important role in surimi production, but due to declining catches and changing economic conditions, it has become less important. Mackerel (aji) is very popular in Japan and particularly healthy because of its rich omega-3 fatty acid content. Chiri-maaji sushi is usually served with freshly grated ginger and Japanese bunching onion.
Characteristics & Ecology
Chilean horse mackerel are schooling fish that can be found on coasts as well as in the open ocean. They usually swim in depths between 10 and 70 m, occasionally they can reach depths of up to 300 m. Their distribution extends from the South Pacific over the southwest Atlantic to the eastern Central and South Pacific. They feed mainly on fish larvae and small crustaceans. This species can live up to 16 years. As for themselves, they serve as a source of food for tuna and swordfish. For industrial aquaculture they are often processed into fish meal and used as feed.
As a migratory species, they migrate north in the summer months and return south when the sea temperature begins to fall. The northern stock spawns in summer, while the southern stock has its main spawning season in November to January. They are caught using trawls, longlines, purse seines, pots and netting.