What is Akamutsu (Blackthroat Seaperch)?
The blackthroat seaperch or rosy seabass is called “akamutsu” in japan. The term “mutsu” (むつ) comes from the meaning of “mutsukkoi” (むつっこい, Tukushima dialect) and means in other words “greasy” or “strong in taste”. Besides the name akamutsu it also carries the very common name nodoguro (喉黒), which is similar to its English name blackthroat. Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) belongs to the family of lantern bellies and is highly valued in Japan as a premium seafood and sushi ingredient. Some connoisseurs refer to its meat as “white toro”, which is said to be in no way inferior in taste and texture to the fatty meat of tuna.
Akamutsu as Ingredient for Sushi or Sashimi
Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) owes its first-class reputation as a gourmet fish to its remarkable high fat content. Under its skin is a distinctive layer of fat that gives the whitish meat a certain sweetness, hence its nickname “white toro”. Whether raw or cooked, its meat has a unique and elegant taste. The meat is soft and has a wonderfully full-bodied umami taste. It harmonizes very well with sushi rice and is therefore appreciated not only as sashimi but also as nigiri sushi.
Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) is very tasty regardless of the season, but the best season is considered to be late winter to spring, before it spawns in late summer. The fish is fatty regardless of the season and is popular throughout Japan, especially in urban areas.
Akamutsu in Japan
In Hamada, a city in Shimane Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) is known as “nodoguro”, a local specialty that is regularly mentioned in tourist guides. Its name nodoguro, loosely translated as "blackthroat", is due to the dark coloring on the back of its mouth. Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) is mainly caught in the Sea of Japan, the side of Japan facing away from the Pacific Ocean, and is found along the coast from Toyama to Shimane. It is appreciated as a regional delicacy throughout the Hokuriku region.
Breeding of Akamutsu
In July 2013, a research group from the Nihonkai-ku Fisheries Research Institute announced that Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) had succeeded in being raised in aquaculture for the first time, allowing them to be transferred to their natural habitat. In February 2017, it was confirmed that one of the released Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) juvenile fish was able to survive in the wild. The specimen was found as by-catch in the net of a shrimp fisher. The discovery raises hopes for a more stable market supply and the protection of natural stocks. On the other hand, it was also observed that there are very few females among the adult fish raised by artificial insemination. These and other aspects are still the subject of current research.
Characteristics & Ecology of Akamutsu (Blackthroat Seaperch)
Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) lives in sea depths of 100 to 600 m and feeds mainly on smaller fishes as well as crustaceans and molluscs. The usual length is 30 cm with a maximum of 40 cm. Its range extends from the Japanese sea over the western Pacific Ocean to Australia. It is considered sensitive to changes in its living conditions. Fluctuating water temperatures and changes in the supply of food are said to have a significant impact on the quality of the catch.
Top specimens of Blackthroat seaperch (akamutsu) are traded at comparatively high prices, it is not unusual for particularly good specimen to achieve prices of up to over 10,000 ¥ (≈ 95 USD) per kilo.
Beast Season for Akamutsu
Further information on the author can be found in the section on image credits.
Video about Akamutsu
External video embedded from youTube.com: イシ. のどぐろ（アカムツ）のさばき方～握り寿司とあら汁になるまで～how to fillet a Blackthroat seaperch and make sushi and soup
Warnings Regarding Akamutsu Sushi or Sashimi
- PARASITES: The meat, especially that of wild-caught specimens, may be infested with parasites that cause infectious diseases. Infection can be avoided if the raw meat has been adequately frozen. Pickling and soaking in salt or vinegar solution is not sufficient to eliminate the parasites. If the product has been farmed, only raw unprocessed seafood from production facilities whose products are approved for raw consumption should be consumed. [Choi et al., 2011]
Species of Akamutsu
The following species are regarded as authentic. Either historically, according to the area of distribution or according to the common practice in today's gastronomy:
Common Names, Scientific Name
blackthroat seaperch, rosy seabass
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. https://www.fishbase.org. Retrieved online on December 24, 2020.
- [Fujiwara, 2020]: 昌髙藤原. ぼうずコンニャクの市場魚貝類図鑑 (engl. Bozu Konyaku's Market Fish and Shellfish Book). Bozu Konnyaku Co., Ltd., Tokyo ぼうずコンニャク株式会社東京, zukan-bouz.com. 2020. https://www.zukan-bouz.com/. Retrieved online on December 27, 2021.
- [Kitanippon Shimbun, 2018]: 放流ノドグロの生存確認 富山市沖で県水産研 (engl. Confirmation of survival of released blackthroat seaperch Prefectural Fisheries Research Institute off Toyama City). hokurikushinkansen-navi.jp, Kitanippon Shimbun (北日本新聞), Toyama (富山市). https://www.hokurikushinkansen-navi.jp/pc/news/article.php?id=NEWS0000013208. Retrieved online on December 24, 2020.
- [Kōdansha, 2002]: カラー完全版 魚の目利き食通事典 (engl. A Complete Color Dictionary for Fish Connoisseurs). Kōdansha (講談社) + α Bunko, Tokyo. 2002.
- [Mochizuki, 2005]: 望月賢二. 図説魚と貝の事典 (engl. Illustrated fish and shellfish encyclopedia). Fish Culture Research Association (魚類文化研究会), Kashiwashobo Publishing (柏書房), Tokyo. 2005.
- [Shikoku Shimbun, 2013]: 水産総研. ノドグロ稚魚飼育成功／高級魚、安定供給へ期待 (engl. Successful breeding of nodoguro fry, high-end fish expected to lead to stable supply). Shikoku News, shikoku-np.co.jp, The Shikoku Shimbun (四国新聞社), Takamatsu (高松市). 2013. https://www.shikoku-np.co.jp/national/science_environmental/20131122000654. Retrieved online on December 24, 2020.
City Foodsters (Grace Chen, Jason Wang). Nodoguro, Sushisho Masa, Tokyo. flickr.com. License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0). Changes made: image quality, brightness, contrast, colour matching, sharpening, cropping.