Suzuki Sushi
Japanese seabass

suzuki sushi

What is Suzuki スズキ 【鱸】?

Suzuki is the Japanese name for the japanese sea bass, a species of perch-like fish found in the Western Pacific and coastal rivers.

There are different theories about the origin of the name suzuki, one of them says that the name is derived from the Japanese term susugi (ススギ). Susugi is the Japanese word for rinse and is a metaphor for the white and clean-looking flesh of the suzuki, which looks as if it has already been washed out.

Suzuki for Sushi and Sashimi

The white meat is remarkably bright, almost without blood, firm but still tender. Its appearance is similar to the meat of the red sea bream (tai). Suzuki has a light and refreshing distinctive taste which makes it one of the most popular fish in summer.

Suzuki is not only excellent for Sushi and Sashimi, but also for arai (洗い). For this, the raw meat is cut very thinly, soaked in ice water and then served with a refined soy sauce or a miso vinaigrette.

Avoid suzuki caught in rivers or brackish water of dirty or polluted rivers. Not only does the meat have a bad smell and a miserable taste, but suzuki may also be contaminated with harmful substances.

Best season

The spawning season is between November and April, which means that the period from May to October, which has its peak in June to August, is considered the best season for suzuki. Before spawning the adult animals visibly increase in fat and are therefore more palatable.

In some regions of Japan suzuki is caught in winter (samu suzuki, 寒スズキ). During the cold season the fish migrate to bays near the coast to spawn. Fish that have not yet spawned at this time are considered top specimens and are traded at high prices.

A fish that changes its name

Suzuki is a fish that changes its name when it grows (shusseuo, しゅっせうお). The custom has its origins in the Edo period and was part of the ceremonial rite of passage into adulthood. At that time, it was common for aspiring warriors and scholars to change their names when they rose to the rank.

RegionSmallMediumLarge
Kanto Seigo
セイゴ
fukko
フッコ
suzuki → ootarou
スズキ → オオタロウ
Kansai Seigo
セイゴ
hane
ハネ
suzuki
スズキ
Tokai Seigo
セイゴ
madaka
マダカ
suzuki
スズキ

Characteristics & Ecology

Suzuki prefers rocky coastal regions which are exposed to strong currents and swell. In winter they spawn and hibernate in bays and estuaries influenced by the open sea. Suzuki are hermaphrodites (double sexed individuals), which reach sexual maturity as males and change to the female sex in the course of their life.

The distribution area stretches from the coasts of the Japanese archipelago from southern Hokkaido to Kyushu, as well as in the east and south of the Korean peninsula. Suzuki is considered to be predominantly nocturnal and feeds on small fish and crustaceans.

Related Species

Beside Japanese sea-perch (suzuki), two further relatives of its type exist. The spotted Japanese sea bass (tairiku-suzuki) was until not too long ago regarded as the same species as suzuki. It is believed that tairiku-suzuki specimens escaped from Chinese breeding facilities in the 1990s and have since settled in Japan. Blackfin sea bass (hira-suzuki) is also a popular edible fish and is valued for sushi and sashimi. The (ariake-suzuki) is a regional variety that has not yet been sufficiently studied scientifically.

Japanese nameCommon name
Suzuki
スズキ
Japanese sea bass
Lateolabrax japonicus
Hira-suzuki
ヒラスズキ
Blackfin sea bass
Lateolabrax latus
Tairiku-suzuki, Hon suzuki
タイリクスズキ, ホンスズキ
Spotted Japanese sea bass
Lateolabrax maculatus
Ariake-suzuki
有明スズキ
Ariake sea bass
Lateolabrax -

Classification

Classification of the “suzuki group” can be subject to different opinions. On the one hand the classification as suzuki is only used for perches that are native to Japanese waters, but on the other hand also species like the European sea bass carry suzuki in their japanese name.

Furthermore, the taxonomic order of the Percoidei carries the Japanese common name suzuki-amoku (スズキ亜目). Their most representatives, however, are not called suzuki.

Japanese nameCommon nameCommercial important
Yōroppa-suzuki
ヨーロッパスズキ
European bass
Dicentrarchus labrax
yes
Shima-suzuki
シマスズキ (縞鱸)
Striped bass
Morone saxatilis
yes
Oki-suzuki
オキスズキ
Ara
Niphon spinosus
yes
Minamioo-suzuki
ミナミオオスズキ
Hapuku wreckfish
Polyprion oxygeneios
yes
Togehana-suzuki
トゲハナスズキ
Spotlined bass
Liopropoma japonicum
no

Economy

The main Japanese fishing grounds of suzuki are Tokyo Bay, Ise Bay, the Seto Inland Sea and Lake Ariake, where they are caught mainly with bottom-set gillnets. Since the mid-2000s, large quantities of tairiku-suzuki have been bred in aquaculture in China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Chart showing the catch numbers of suzuki.
Since the mid-2000s, Suzuki has been massively farmed in aquaculture
Diagram showing the course of the sales volume and that of the average price
As expected, the average selling price increases significantly during the best season for Suzuki
  1. Among others: Izu-hantō, Kumamoto-ken, Minamata-byō, Sagami no kuni, Seto-naikai, Suruga-wan, Tango-hantō, Tokushima-ken, Toyama-wan and Tōkyō-wan.
  2. Due to concerns regarding habitat competition with suzuki and other fishes, tairiku-suzuki has been classified as a non-native species by the “Law for the Prevention of Ecosystem Damage by Certain Alien Species” (平成十六年法律第七十八号特定外来生物による生態系等に係る被害の防止に関する法律).

Video

© さばけるチャンネル. 鱸(すずき)のさばき方 - How to filet Japanese Seaperch -|日本さばけるプロジェクト. 2016-11-07, youTube.com

Warnings

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

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

Information

Illustration

Drawn illustration for  suzuki

Common names

japanese seabass, japan sea bass, sea bass, perch, japanese seaperch, asian seabass

Japanese names

  • fukko (フッコ)
  • hane (ハネ)
  • madaka (マダカ)
  • ootarou (オオタロウ)
  • seigo (セイゴ)
  • suzuki (スズキ)

Scientific name

Lateolabrax japonicus

Family

Asian seabasses

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