Yellowtail Sushi – AKA Hamachi

There are certain fish that I think present themselves perfectly without being made too fancy, hamachi (yellowtail) being one of them. I went to my favorite local sushi place on Saturday night with my wife and my brother, who loves sushi, but is not nearly as crazy about as I, and ordered a huge platter with all our staples. The discussion for the night was the hamachi. My brother likes it in a roll with scallions, whereas I prefer it as nigiri sushi or sashimi. It’s not that there was any problem ordering, but I was just wondering how much he really could appreciate the fish that way.

Don’t get me wrong, I know everyone has different preferences, and there is no single way to serve anything, but I always feel that the reason I eat what I eat is to really appreciate the fish. The taste. The texture. The mouthfeel and the lingering flavors. There is nothing wrong with pairing the yellowtail sushi with scallions in a roll, in fact, the scallion (or green onion) does an exceptional job complimenting the fish, but I just can’t help being a purist with this one particular fish.

It’s my favorite piece. Hamachi has a buttery flavor that I cannot find in the finest otoro (also spelled o-toro, the “o being an honorific prefix in Japanese), and a texture that rivals it as well. A good piece yields gently to the tongue, and has a subtle taste that is unique and familiar at the same time. Unfettered with additional flavors, hamachi is the purest example of why sushi is such a unique food; it is something special and something to tell your friends about. Hamachi is clean, consistent, and defined, and never interferes with it’s friends on your plate. It carries it’s own bags and makes the bed when it leaves.

I had my hamachi sashimi and he had his hamachi maki, and we were both happy at the end of the meal. The Gekkikan Black & Gold sake may have helped that, but I prefer to think it was the company 🙂 I’m not trying to be an extremist or pretend that any serving method is the best, merely share my opinions, but I would suggest that anyone try hamachi sashimi or sushi at least once, if you are used to having it maki style with scallions. There really are no comparisons to this gentle and robust fish that melts in your mouth almost as well as the tastiest toro sushi while the unique flavor carries on.

Warren Ransom

I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.

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