Toro Hamachi (“Cho Rei Kun” Frozen Yellowtail)
Maintaining fresh taste, rich texture and beautiful color, Toro Hamachi’s quality is esteemed by chefs and sushi connoisseurs.
Japan’s aqua-farmed yellowtail Toro Hamachi has recently been gaining popularity in the U.S. since it started being sold here last year. As the name indicates, it is a Toro (fatty tuna)-like Hamachi (yellowtail), and it is currently carried in the U.S. by large seafood wholesale distributor True World Foods. But to what can we attribute Toro Hamachi’s strong appeal? How is it different from regular yellowtail, and why is it such a hit for both restaurants and customers?
To start with, in Japan a one-year portion of Toro Hamachi is harvested mainly from December to February, as this is said to be the apex of when fish put on fat. Following this, a special processing technology called Cho Rei Kun, which maximizes raw ingredients’ original beauty and taste, is introduced. It was discovered after repeat trial and error in trying to remove blood in fish with a smoke solution (perfusate that is saturated with smoke), both complete removal of blood and stabilizing color tone was achieved at the same time. The current method incorporates a smoke solution and freezing in collaboration, and it is able to process any fish under 13 kg.
The special aspect of Cho Rei Kun is that it completely gets rid of all intracapillary blood during the treatment process. Thanks to this, the distinct blood stink smell that usually accompanies treatment is eliminated. Also, with the entire removal of intracapillary blood, the color of the yellowtail’s meat itself is retained. It is not an exaggeration to say that the accuracy of blood removal largely determines things like a fish’s quality and taste. It is said that the normal limit of yellowtail’s fatty portion is 20%, but Toro Hamachi reaches 30% or more. It is a clear departure from other yellowtail, and finished with a texture and taste like that of fatty tuna. The ingredients that are used are produced by an aquaculture company via special order, and frozen processing of the fish takes place during that very season, preserving their seasonality.
Toro Hamachi’s high quality makes it easy for restaurants to use, and Cho Rei Kun allows red meat portions that would have to be thrown away in traditional yellowtail due to being dark red with blood to be deliciously enjoyed instead. Most raw fish products are not stable in their quality, but Toro Hamachi is frozen so its quality can be ensured throughout the year. Despite the fact that it is frozen, its taste is not different from fresh yellowtail. Finally, because it doesn’t have a fishy smell, it appeals to a wide range of customers and it can be used in a variety of cuisines.
Due to the success of Toro Hamachi, we might be seeing more fish that undergo Cho Rei Kun processing enter the U.S. market in the future (in Japan the Cho Rei Kun series features yellowtail, sea bream, amberjack, amberjack yellowtail, horse mackerel, etc.). Chefs that work with Toro Hamachi compliment its bright color and versatility, and they market it as premium yellowtail. They remark that customers notice the difference when they use yellowtail other than Toro Hamachi, which indicates the extent to which its taste has become widespread. Once you try Toro Hamachi, there is no going back to the yellowtail you once knew.
You can find the restaurant using Toro Hamachi at www.torohamachi.com.
Special Cho-Rei-Kun processing method allows Toro Hamachi to preserve its rich red bloodline, which does not need to be removed. This increases fillet yield by 8.1% compared to other frozen hamachi.
Chef Charlie Chan of Umi Sushi (www.millburnumi.com) has used Toro Hamachi for years. He loves its quality that is consistent all year round.
Toro Hamachi contains 30% fat, which is twice as much the amount that hamachi normally has.