HOW TOTangerine fed yellowtail? Chocolate fed yellowtail?
Known by many names in Japan, buri is a winter delicacy in Japan thanks to its higher fat content in the colder months. Yellowtail has a buttery flavor and is enjoyed both raw and cooked, but it may surprise you to hear that the fish’s diet now consists of tangerines and chocolate.
Introducing chocolate- and tangerine-fed yellowtail
The buri (Japanese amberjack or yellowtail in English) is a predatory fish that eats smaller fish, squid and crustaceans in the wild. On fish farms, they’re given specially designed pellets or extruded feed to meet their nutritional needs, with aquaculturists finding new ingredients to improve their fish. The latest ingredients? Tangerines and chocolate.
So, If you are what you eat, then does that mean that tangerine-fed buri and chocolate-fed buri taste of citrus and chocolate? Sadly, no. And we’re unlikely to see choco buri under the dessert section of the menu anytime soon. But the unusual ingredients being added to the fish feed do have an interesting effect.
The difference between feeding chocolate and tangerines to fish
Tangerines and chocolate both contain antioxidants. By now, we all know that antioxidants are good for you, but just what do they do exactly? The short answer is that antioxidants fight free radicals–compounds that damage the body when there are too many. Antioxidants reduce oxidation.
So, what effect does this have on buri? Truly fresh and delicious yellowtail has a dark red section, the more vivid the color, the better. The higher fat content in farm-raised fish gives buri an even more buttery flavor than usual, but also speeds up oxidation, deteriorating color and freshness in just two days. This is where an antioxidant-rich diet of tangerines and chocolate comes in.
Thanks to the antioxidants in the special feed, tangerine-fed buri stays fresher for longer with deterioration starting after 96 hours. Chocolate-fed buri, or choco buri, lasts even longer, keeping its beautiful red color and fresh flavor for 120 hours.
Other types of special yellowtail
There’s a chance you’re facing some confusion around the word buri for yellowtail. You might be thinking, “Isn’t hamachi yellowtail?” And you’d be right. In Japanese, buri has different names depending on the growth stage of the fish. Hamachi, also known as young yellowtail, is what the fish is called when it is between 20 and 40 centimeters in length, approximately 1-2 years old. Buri, or mature yellowtail, is over 80 centimeters and is about four years old.
While perusing the sushi menu, you’ll find other popular yellowtail varieties such as kanpachi and hiramasa. These fish often get confused because they all have that beautiful pink hue with a deeper red patch, but they each have their own unique flavor.
Best ways to enjoy yellowtail
Fresh yellowtail is delicious eaten as sushi or sashimi. It’s not quite as dense as tuna, but it has a delightful soft yet firm texture. This combined with its buttery flavor makes buri a more than adequate competitor against the better known sushi fishes such as salmon and tuna.
Japanese people also enjoy buri in many cooked dishes because its natural umami taste enhances the flavor of other ingredients. Buri daikon is one such dish. While now available year round, daikon and buri are both at their best in the winter months. And as buri daikon is a seasoned, simmered broth, it is perfect for warming you up on a cold winter’s day.
As with salmon, you can enjoy buri with a teriyaki sauce, so you can get the best fish for the season all year round!