Japanese Seasonal Fish: Sole/Hirame

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“Hirame” could be translated in many ways depending of your country of origin: Flat Fish, Sole, Turbot (although the latter should define “karei”) and what else. There are many varieties, wild or humanーfed. In Japanese, the names are numerous: Hirame, Shitabirame, Ooguchikarei, oyanirami, etc.
The best season is Autumn to Winter. They are still available until Spring in Shizuoka Prefecture. Wild ones come from Hokkaido and Aomori. Human-fed ones mainly hail from Oita, Ehime, Mie, and Kagoshima Prefectures.
The domestic wild catch is around 7600 tonnes a year, while human-fed fish amount to around 7100 tonnes a year. A recent increase has been observed in recent years, though. A lot are imported from Korea through Fukuoka and Shimoseki.
Hirame can be enjoyed as sashimi, cut in various thickness, according to the chef’s preference and presented artfully.
I like both sashimi and nigiri, but in the case of nigiri, I have a marked preference (see pic above taken at Sushi No Ichi, Shizuoka City): Seasoned with a little lemon juice or yuzu (if available) and salt (preferably “snow salt” from Okinawa), eaten as it is with no shoyu!

28 thoughts on “Japanese Seasonal Fish: Sole/Hirame”

  1. I love all kinds of sushi and being close to NYC freshness is not an issue. I am embarrassed to say that while I have had Hirame numerous times, and enjoyed it tremendously, I never REALLY knew what it was until now!


  2. It seems so hard for me to access your site but I do love it & was intrigued by the fish….always a fan of fresh fish out somewhere. You make me want to explore the cuisine there more often!


  3. I LOVE Hirame, however, I find it is rarely available here in my area (Southeastern, PA). I often have to settle for Red Snapper or Sea Bass, which are similar, but not nearly as wonderful as Hirame. I, too, prefer it with yuzo and a light sprinkling of finely chopped scallions. Now, if only I could find a restaurant that actually has it on hand!


    1. Dear Nasty Friend! (LOL)
      I totally agree with you! Usualy white flesh fish, when eaten raw don’t need strong soy sauce.
      Wish you all the luck to find good fish soon!


  4. another great one, just love the freshness of all, and the great photos too as gives a better “picture” of how it really is.
    I have one request…. i’d love to see you making a delicious traditional local sweet recipe. Go on spoil us. 🙂


  5. Hi Robert,

    Thanks for the interesting post. First time seeing Hirame as a whole 🙂
    Envy is the word. You get to eat sashimi all the time :)) Btw, still waiting for your articles on tofu 🙂

    Cheers and Merry Xmas and a Healthy New Year to you and your beta half.



    1. Dear Jason!
      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting!
      The point is you must make sure it is fresh if you want to eat it raw. The taste should be elegant!


  6. Dear Robert-Gilles,

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments. I just learned something new from your blog today. It’s a great post and I have newfound respect for Hirame. Normally I am not into chewier fishes but when it’s fresh and prepared correctly most delectable nigiri/sashimi melts in your mouth. I think this is the first time I have seen the fish as a whole! ^_^


  7. Japan would be heaven for me. Fish is so wonderful when not cooked. I think I could eat nigiri every meal, for months at a time… Especially with the wide variety of great fish in Japan.

    I’d love to break out of the mold of American sushi. Here in Des Moines we don’t have any Japanese restaurants that haven’t given into the “California Roll” mentality. Some of the rolls are downright horrible.


    1. Dear Rick!
      The problem with most California Rolls in America is they are not real sushi when they are served with loads of sauce/mayonnaise/even ketchup. They just become “stuff-yourself food”. A pity as some California Rolls are really good!
      As Des Moines is far away from the sea, it might explain things! But don’t give up!


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