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Fruit-flavored fish

Japanese have long eaten fish as a staple of their diet. There are records of eating fish in Japan dating back to four or five thousand years ago. No surprise for an island nation like Japan with the currents carry small fish close to the coastal areas, and they attract packs of larger fish in pursuit, so there is an abundance of fishing grounds along the coasts.

However, a survey showed that consumption of meat has been greater than that of seafood since 2008. The reason for the changes may be linked to the popularity of Western diets. The sale of fish has declined, with per-person caloric intake decreasing by 20 percent. The Japanese aquaculture fishing industry wants to attract more fish-eaters by lessening the fish smell that turns some people off. They came out with “furuutsu sakana”, means, fruit-flavored fish.

Farmed fish are being given a diet that includes regional fruit, which enhance the fish’s flavor and also mask its fishy smell. A number of them utilize regional specialty citrus fruits that thrive along the coasts of Japan’s Inland Sea such as the Ehime Prefecture’s mikan. Ehime is one of Japan’s top producers of mikan mandarin oranges.

For the last sixteen weeks before harvesting sea bream, leftover skin and pulp from juice mikan are mixed into their feed. The result on the plate is a gentle citrus aroma and distinct mikan flavor of Mikan Sea Bream. In Oita Prefecture, their famous lime-like kabosu are added to the feed of the prefecture’s delicacy, Kabosu Flounder. In Nagasaki prefecture, mackerel – a particularly smelly fish – are fed a mixture of nutmeg, oregano, cinnamon, and ginger, and create a more fragrant Herb Mackerel.

In Kagawa prefecture, moist pellets containing olive leaves are fed to Hamachi 20 days before harvesting. The olive adds both flavor and vitamin E to Olive Hamachi. (Floro Mercene)