Flavour: The squid's mantle has a firm texture. It has a mild flavour that takes well to rice and vinegar. The body of the squid is served raw while the tentacles are cooked.
Season: May to August
Size: Normally up to 60cm, giant varieties may reach up to 13m
Bluefin Tuna (Maguro)
Akami: This lean, firm and meaty cut come from the top of the fish. It has a chewy texture and an intense umami flavour highly regarded by connoisseurs.
Chu-toro: This marbled belly cut has a high-fat content that melts in the mouth. It has a rich taste and buttery texture with a milky pink colour.
O-toro: This premium cut comes from the fattiest part of the belly near the head. It has a pale pink colour that instantly melts on the tongue.
Size: Very large; peaks at 3m long and nearly 700kg
Varieties: Yellowfin, bigeye, northern bluefin, southern bluefin, albacore, skipjack
Sea Urchin (Uni)
Flavour: Sea urchin has a sweet and luscious flavour. Often called the "foie gras of the ocean," sea urchin has a rich, buttery texture that melts in the mouth. Its distinctive taste combines well with other ingredients like sushi rice. It is a highly-prized delicacy.
Season: Late summer up to end of April (Japan); hand-harvesting from Oct to winter (North America)
Size: Very small; ranges 3cm to 10cm with a maximum of 36cm
Flavour: Mackerel contains a bold flavour that stands up to stronger ingredients. Its buttery, oily flesh has a smooth, meaty flavour. It is packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and important nutrients like DHA and EPA. It can either be served raw, grilled, or cured.
Season: Available year-round, but more flavourful in fall and winter
Eel (Unagi, Anago)
Flavour: Eels have a mild flavour with no fishy aftertaste. They have a slightly meaty texture that is soft yet firm. The freshwater variety of eel (unagi) is grilled and served with a rich sauce while its saltwater counterpart is either simmered or deep-fried. Eels feature high levels of protein, vitamin A and calcium.
Season: Year-round; popularly consumed in Japan during summer months as a way to cool down.
Size: 100 to 150cm
Flavour: Salmon has a distinctive hue ranging between peachy orange and deep red. It has a rich and flavourful taste that is tender, fatty, and a bit buttery. Wild salmon is more robustly flavoured than farm-cultivated varieties due to its higher fat content.
Season: Autumn through winter
Size: Medium-large ranging between 3.5kg to 4.5kg
Sea Bream (Tai)
Flavour: Sea breams are a firm-fleshed white fish that are mild in flavour without much of a fishy flavour. It makes for a large contrast from stronger-flavoured fish like eel or mackerel. Associated with good luck and celebrations, this versatile ingredient works well as a sashimi or grilled fish.
Due to its longevity (up to 40 years), taste and texture varies with age. Younger sea breams are more tender and even served with their skin on.
Season: All year, but develops its highest fat content between May and August before summer spawning
Size: medium, average of 1.25m