Aji (Chirimāji) Sushi
Chilean jack mackerel

chirimaaji sushi

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.


Diagram showing the progress of the catch of horse mackerel.
Beside the Chilean, the Japanese and the Atlantic horse mackerel represent the commercially most important species.
  1. Chiri (チリ) is the Japanese word for Chile.
  2. According to FAO Statistics, the total catch of Chiamaaji in 2017 was 544 803 tonnes worldwide, making it the most heavily fished representative of its species. The Japanese horse mackerel (māji), on the other hand, accounts for a total catch of 211 459 tonnes.


© SUSHI LABO. アジの握り【寿司の握り方】. 2020-04-05, youTube.com

Native Range

Source: Kaschner, K., K. Kesner-Reyes, C. Garilao, J. Segschneider, J. Rius-Barile, T. Rees, and R. Froese. 2019. AquaMaps, Scarponi, P., G. Coro, and P. Pagano. A collection of Aquamaps native layers in NetCDF format.


As a general rule, do not eat ingredients that are not explicitly labeled 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

  • [FAO 2019]: Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics, Statistiques des pêches et de l’aquaculture, Estadísticas de pesca y acuicultura 2017. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. 2019
  • [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
  • [Park, 2013]: Jae W. Park. Surimi and Surimi Seafood. CRC Press, Boca Raton. 2013



Drawn illustration for  chirimaaji

Common names

chilean jack mackerel, inca scad, oceanic peruvian jack mackerel, peruvian jack mackerel

Japanese names

  • chiri-maaji (チリーマアジ)

Scientific name

Trachurus murphyi




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