Buri (Hamachi) Sushi
Japanese amberjack

hamachi sushi

What is Hamachi ハマチ ?

Hamachi in Japanese represents a japanese yellowtail (buri) of medium size. It is a species of jack fishes in the family of Jacks and pompanos. A hamachi is between 40 to 60 cm in size and thus corresponds to about half to three-quarters of a full-grown buri. Hamachi is a popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine and a popular ingredient for sushi and sashimi.

Hamachi as an Ingredient for Sushi and Sashimi

A hand-shaped sushi (jap. nigiri) with Japanese amberjack or yellowtail (jap. hamachi) lies on a Japanese ceramic plate. It is garnished with a topping of marinated shiso and caviar roe.
Specimens caught in winter have a particularly high fat content, which gives the meat its pale color.

The taste is full-bodied, minerally and slightly buttery with a distinct sweetness. The light-colored and whitish to pinkish red meat has a pleasant soft texture, is medium firm and thanks to the fat content remarkably tender. The meat of hamachi is equally suitable for nigiri sushi or sashimi.

Hamachi from aquaculture differs significantly from wild captured specimens. The taste of a farm cultivated specimen is lighter and less intense.

Best Season

The best season for hamachi is from autumn to winter, with the peak in December until late February. The young fish form a shoal and migrate from the north towards Hokkaido, along the Sea of Japan, to the south. The hamachi caught in the winter carries also the name kan-hamachi (寒ハマチ). In the winter caught kan-hamachi are particularly fat and therefore tastier.

Hamachi from aquaculture is available in consistent quality all year round.

Hamachi as Synonym for Farmed Buri

Traditionally, young and medium sized hamachi are called buri. In fact, however, the term hamachi is now synonymous with buri from aquaculture breeding (養殖). Wide distribution of commercially farmed hamachi began in the early 1960s and has continued on a large scale ever since. The majority of animals that reach the market after two years of mast are called hamachi.

Especially in “ordinary“ sushi restaurants farmed buri is generally named hamachi. Mostly this applies to farmed specimen with a size between 4 to 6 kg. The main breeding centers are located in the prefectures of Kagoshima, Ehime and Nagasaki. The market demand is almost completely covered by marine aquaculture. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Japan is the only significant producer of farmed buri or hamachi in the world.

Diagram showing the time trend of breeding hamachi in aquaculture.

Characteristics & Ecology

The distribution range of the japanese yellowtail opens up from the south over the East China Sea, in the north over the Kamchatka peninsula and in the east over the northwestern Pacific Ocean to Hawaii. Large populations are found in the Japanese sea as far as to Kyushu. In the late autumn, they move in swarms southwards to spend the winter there.

The Japanese yellowtail is a fast swimmer, that as hunt-predacious fish predominantly pursues small fishs, crustaceans and cephalopods during the day. The maximum size is about 1,5 m with a weight of 40 kg, on average most animals have a length of 1 m and a weight of about 8 kg.

Japanese yellowtail that are classified as hamachi are on average 40 to 60 cm long and have an age of one to three years.

The illustration shows how the name of the fish depends on its size.
Hamachi is one of the most popular “shusseuo fishes“ in Japanese cuisine.

Ökonomie

Chart showing monthly wholesale quantity and price of hamachi and buri in Tsukiji & Toyosu market in Japan.
Towards the end of the year, the average price of Buri converges with that of Hamachi

Video

© Hiroyuki Terada - Diaries of a Master Sushi Chef. How To Fillet a Whole Hamachi - How To Make Sushi Series. 2015-06-20, youTube.com

Gallery

 

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

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.

Warnings

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.

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.

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

References & further reading

  • [FAO FishstatJ, 2020]: Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics. Global production by production source 1950-2018 (FishstatJ). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome. 2020. Retrieved online on: December 24, 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
  • [Takagi et al., 2013]: Shusaku Takagi, Hisashi Murata, Takanobu Goto, Hideo Hatate, Hirofumi Yamashita, Akira Takano, Masaharu Ukawa. Long-term Feeding of the Yellowtail Seriola quinqueradiata with Soy Protein Concentrate-based Non-fishmeal Diet. Aquaculture Science Vol. 61 (4). Japanese Society of Aquaculture Science, Mie. 2013

Image credits

Information

Illustration

Drawn illustration for  hamachi

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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