Fish Seasonality

All about fish seasonality in Japan

Using the best ingredients is very important in all Japanese cuisine, but even more so with Sushi and Sashimi.

Like all fresh food, every variety of fish has its own seasonality, when it’s at its best. In a lot of cases, this happens just around spawning season – by this stage the fish have eaten well storing up nutrients in order to spawn eggs. However there can be other reasons too, for example certain regions might prove to be good feeding grounds for particular fish in a given time of year.

Spring

seasonality
Sea Bream: Sea Bream caught in the Akashi Straight is also in season (some may say even better) in Autumn due to plentiful food during the summer.
Japanese Spanish Mackerel: the Japanese Spanish Mackerel is a migratory fish, and in any given local region considered “seasonal” when the school is passing by. In many regions winter is considered to be the best time for Japanese Spanish Mackerel.

Also: Pacific Herring, Manila Clam

Summer

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Smelt-Whiting: While summer is considered to be the best time for the Smelt-Whiting, the taste doesn’t change as much as many other fish so is often eaten regardless of season.
Sardine: There are many types of sardine and the seasonality varies slightly, but generally they tend to be at their best in summer.
Sweetfish: Due to conservation efforts there is a general agreement that in Japan, Sweetfish can only be caught between the months of June and October. Within this time, depending on region Sweetfish are generally considered to be in season some time between June and August.
Bonito: Many people prefer Bonito in autumn due to it’s fattier and oilier meat, but those wanting a cleaner or lighter texture often prefer the Bonito in summer.
Squid: Since there are many types of squid, most times throughtout the year there will be a particular type of squid somewhere which is in season.
Eel: In actual fact, the Eel is really in season between late autumn and winter. However, in the mid 18th century, a Japanese businessman who sought to increase the sales of Eel during summer started a marketing campaign; it was so successful that the tradition of eating Eel during the hottest months of the year lives on to this day.

Also: Flounder, Jack Mackerel, Japanese Sea Bass, Sea Urchin, Octopus, Whitespotted Conger, Conger Pike, Abalone

Autumn

seasnality3
Pacific Saury: Considered by many to be the fish representing autumn. Probably at its best during November.

Also: Mackerel, Salmon, Shishamo

Winter

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Bastard Halibut: The Bastard Halibut usually spawns its offspring by summer, and having eaten plenty since then to recover are especially tasty during the winter.
Crab: There are of coures many types of crab, so in fact at any given time of the year there will probably be some type of crab in season. However, many of the famous type of crab in Japan tend to be in season during the winter.
False Kelpfish: Packed with flavour considering it’s a white-flesh fish, so during the winter months often used in pot-dishes.

Also: Tuna, Thread-sail Filefish, Pacific Cod, Amberjack, Shrimp, Sea Cucumber, Pufferfish, Monkfish, Icefish, Japanese Smelt

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