Aomori prefecture boasts the nation’s largest catch of flounder in Japan. Flounder, or hirame, is a premium fish popular for its firm texture and refined flavor. As a symbol of Aomori, it has been designated as the “prefectural fish.” It can be enjoyed throughout the year, but the winter flounder called “kan-hirame” is highly regarded to be especially delicious.
Aomori Prefectural Fish “Flounder”
Flatfish is a premium fish. Aomori Prefecture’s wild flounder is also known as “aoba” or “tekkui” locally within the prefecture.
Although its abundance declined between 1977 and 1989, it has gradually increased as a result of the tireless efforts of fishermen and related organizations to promote a fishing industry that focuses on creating and nurturing. Aomori Prefecture’s catch of wild flounder is among the highest in Japan and is designated as the “prefectural fish” of the prefecture.
Flounder is caught throughout the prefecture almost year-round. From Mutsu Bay to the northern Pacific Ocean, it is caught from May to July and from November to January of the following year; from September to May of the following year in the southern Pacific side; and from May to July from the Sea of Japan to the western part of the Tsugaru Straits. It is caught using methods that depend on the region such as rod fishing, gill nets, set nets, and trawl nets.
Flounder is found in the area from the Kuril Islands to Kyushu and the East China Sea. After spending approximately one month floating after spawning, they migrate to sandy or muddy areas at depths shallower than 10m. As they grow, they move to deeper depths. Their habitat is typically in waters shallower than 100m, but this changes seasonally. Juveniles feed mainly on mysids, but as they grow, they feed on fish and squids.
Males mature in about 2 years and females in about 3 years. Males live to be at least 19 years old and females to be at least 20 years old.
About Flounder Cuisine
The most popular flounder dish is, without question, sashimi. The meat from the base of the fin, or engawa, has an especially great flavor with a crunchy texture.
In addition to wasabi soy sauce, ponzu soy sauce with chives and grated radish with chili pepper is also recommended. The fish is excellent when curated with kombu seaweed (kobujime). Meuniere is also highly recommended.
Ajigasawa Flounder Zuke Don
“Ajigasawa Flounder” is a superb product of the clear water of the Shirakami Mountains and the rough waves of the Sea of Japan. “Ajigasawa Flounder Zuke-don” is a local specialty of the town of Ajigasawa, which is a bowl of rice topped with fresh flounder marinated in sauce.