Japanese Seasonal Fish: Hirame/Olive Flounder, Bastard Halibut, Tonguefish, Sole

Hirame/平目

“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.

Actually they can be divided into two main groups:

1)The Olive flounder or Bastard halibut (Paralichthys olivaceus; Japanese: ヒラメ/平目) is a species of large-tooth flounder native to the north-western Pacific Ocean.
It is often referred to as the Japanese flatfish or Korea(n) flatfish (광어) when mentioned in the context of those countries.
It is the most common flatfish species raised in aquaculture in Korea. They are raised in Japan and China as well.

Shitabirame/舌平目

2) Tonguefishes (shitabirame/舌平目in Japanese) are a family, Cynoglossidae, of flatfishes. They are distinguished by the presence of a long hook on the snout overhanging the mouth, and the absence of pectoral fins. Their eyes are both on the left side of their body, which also lacks a pelvic fin.

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.

Hirame Sashimi

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.
They are found in tropical and subtropical oceans, mainly in shallow waters and estuaries, though a few species found in deep sea floors, and a few in rivers.

Hirame can be enjoyed in many ways:
As sashimi, cut in various thickness, according to the chef’s preference and presented artfully.

It can be enjoyed cut in small dices, as tartare, especially shitabirame/tonguefish with tomato and strawberry!

Of course, hiirame is great as sushi nigiri with all kinds of seasoning I prefer it just seasoned with a little lemon juice or yuzu (if available) and salt (preferably “snow salt” from Okinawa!

The Japanese have a fondness for “engawa”, that is the frilled border along the fillets which are usually thrown away in other countries. The texture is different, almost crunchy.

Hirame is great marinated with konbu/seaweed as konbujime/seaweed marinated.

The same konbujime hirame can be served as oshizushi/pressed sushi topped with more seaweed!

An interesting oshizusshi combination is hirame topped with kabu/turnip and seasoned with yuzu juice and zest!

It is also very popular dried as himono/干物, especially shitabirame/tonguefish.

Naturally the Japanese all kinds of hirame cooked in the French way in a simple and succulent manner as above,

or as a beautiful gratin!

Last, but not least, how about grilled hirame with uni/sea urchin sauce?

Related Posts

Japanese Seasonal Fish: Sole/Hirame


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hirame.jpg

“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.
hiramesashimi.jpg
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-nigiri.jpg
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!

Related Posts

28 Comments

  1. EJ Conn

    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!

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Always pleased to help!LOL

      Reply
  2. bebemama

    I love hirame! Thanks for the beautiful photos. I SO miss Japan, especially the food!

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      You are mmost welcome, my friend!
      More coming!
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  3. Marina

    I’ve never had Sole and always wondered what it looked like. Great post!

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Marina!
      Greetings!
      Thank you so much for your kind comments!
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  4. Dee

    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!

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Dee!
      Greetings!
      Thank you so much for the compliments!
      How come it is so hard to access my site?
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  5. victoria

    Yum! I’m in the Med at the moment and will serve turbot this way tomorrow for lunch. What a great idea! Thanks for posting this.
    victoria

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Victoria!
      Gretings!
      You are most welcome!
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  6. BigNastyBrain

    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!

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Nasty Friend! (LOL)
      Greetings!
      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!
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
    • dragonlife

      Nope! But you may always try!

      Reply
  7. Ricardo

    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. 🙂

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Cheers, Ricardo!
      I promise I’ll try my best!
      LOL
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  8. Elin

    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.

    Elin

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Elin!
      Greetings!
      Thank you for your comments!
      Sorry, busy with university exams!
      I promise I will start tofu next week!
      Cheers, Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  9. tgilbert

    And hirame you always cut yon-mai ni orosu or ni-mai ni orosu ?

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear tgilbert!
      Greetings!
      Thanks for visiting and commenting!
      ni-mai oroshi is the norm!
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  10. Jen

    Hi Robert-Gilles,

    Very interesting post! Very appetizing pictures as well.

    Cheers, Jen

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Jen!
      Greetings!
      Thanks for the comments, but I’m blushing!
      LOL
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  11. Jason Wong

    I have seen this fish in the TV series Fishing Hokaido. But have seen that in Malaysia. How does the meat taste like?

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Jason!
      Greetings!
      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!
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  12. Kat

    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! ^_^

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Kat!
      Greetings!
      Don’t worry, there are plenty more o come!
      LOL
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply
  13. RickCountryman

    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.

    Reply
    • dragonlife

      Dear Rick!
      Greetings!
      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!
      Cheers,
      Robert-Gilles

      Reply

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