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Help me ID my sashimi Part 2

Last March I posted a query asking help to ID the fish in my sashimi plate:

A big thanks to those who posted replies. I learned a lot and since then have started to learn how to discern and appreciate different fishes. Recently I ordered a sashimi platter from a different place; I was dining with others and didn't get to ask the server or sushi chef about the fish, so I'm turning to the wisdom of the board.

Here's my sashimi platter:

I'm returning to this restaurant this weekend and would love a repeat of the pure white fish in the top right (if it's available) but I have no idea what it is. And for the rest of the plate, I have guesses but would like help confirming my guesses.

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  1. Wow, that pure white one is a mystery and I eat a reasonable amount of sushi/sashimi. Where do you live?

    My thoughts/guesses:

    upper row, left - either kanpachi or shima aji
    upper row, middle - salmon, of course
    upper row, right - mystery fish

    lower row, left - looks like snapper (tai?)
    lower row, middle - tuna (maguro)
    lower row, right - yellowtail (hamachi)

    1. from upper left going clockwise:
      Yellowtail, Salmon, Tako (octopus), Albacore, Maguro tuna, and Amberjack

      That's my best guess...

      1. It looks to me like it might be white tuna ...

        1. My best guess for the top right mystery fish is black cod or sablefish, but it's a long shot.

          1. I vote Squid. That's the only thing I know that would be so opaque and white.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mellycooks

              It's too thick to be squid and doesn't look like octopus, either... My guess would be hirame (flounder)

              1. re: butterfly

                Well, I've had squid steaks a good bit thicker than those pieces...

            2. i seriously doubt toop left is shima aji (amberjack) but it depends on how much you paid for it. however doesn't look like it. shima aji is expensive but oh so good.

              salmon yes

              top right looks like escolar, aka white tuna.

              I agree that the bottom row is tai, maguro, and hamachi.

              1 Reply
              1. re: choctastic

                I'd agree as to the top right being escolar. At least I've had that fish -- very opaque, white, no discernible structure -- on menus described as escolar.

              2. The mystery fish definitely isn't shiro maguro, which is Albacore, not escolar. It could be escolar, though. It barely looks like fish to me, since the picture angle/lighting isn't ideal. Maybe if the OP describe the texture...

                1. some do refer to escolar as white tuna but obviously that's not the same thing as albacore/shiro maguro. Escolar is much whiter.

                  1. Wow. Mystery fish is trippy. Almost looks like shirako (sperm sac) it's so white. That's real hardcore, though, not something that'd show up randomly without you ordering it.

                    What was the texture like? Rich and buttery, or silky like tofu?

                    1. Is it kind of crunchy - maybe conch?

                      1. I don't think I've ever seen that white fish on a sashimi plate before. Hmmm, well here are some wild guesses: kamaboko (fish cake)? Slices of a very large scallop? Abalone?

                        I'm really curious to find out!

                        1. The mystery "fish" reminds me of a great calamari steak I had once at Casablanca, sort of near LAX. (I write "fish" because it doesn't appear to have any grain to it, which is completely unlike most cuts of fish.)

                          1. Oh, I didn't realize my mystery fish would be such an enigma, I thought someone would see it and say "oh that's obviously xxx". Anyway, it's definitely a fin fish, not a shellfish like squid, abalone, octopus etc. Its most distinct quality was its very dense texture. It was like biting into gelato, but for fish, if that makes any sense. It was not oily/fatty tasting like salmon, mackerel or hamachi.

                            My guesses for the bottom 3 are tai, maguro & hamachi as well. I'm also still unsure about the top one. It was more oily/fatty tasting than hirame, and the plate was not that expensive (about $30) so prob not shima aji. Anymore thoughts for the top left and top right?

                            15 Replies
                            1. re: Alice Patis

                              "Its most distinct quality was its very dense texture"

                              It's kamaboko. Good call, chowmeow. That explains any lack of muscle grain and the rounded "shoulders" on the slices. Otherwise described as "fish cake," it's one of the ways in which surimi is used in Japan. Steamed into a long cake, and then sliced into pieces such as what you ate.

                              Here's a photo:

                              1. re: Professor Salt

                                Professor, you beat me to it. That's what I was going to suggest.

                                1. re: Professor Salt

                                  actually escolar has a rather smooth texture, generally lacks noticeable grain. it looks like a slab of white on your plate. you generally find it in cheaper places.

                                  damn you people, now i want some sushi.

                                  1. re: choctastic

                                    Yes, but the "very dense texture" gives it away as kamaboko.

                                    1. re: Professor Salt

                                      I respectfully disagree. Escolar has also sort of a smooth texture that i guess could be called "dense". In fact the texture is kind of similar to kamaboko, just not AS dense.

                                      I actually don't see escolar much in SoCal which is probably why you haven't encountered it. Also high end sushi houses in L.A. will never have it which is another reason why maybe you haven't come across it. I can't remember where I saw it around here but I think it might have been Todai (my mother likes that place, don't shoot me).

                                      1. re: choctastic

                                        I agree, escolar is dense but not as dense a fish-cake. I also find that fish cake has a "pasty" mouthfeel, that escolar does not.

                                        1. re: choctastic

                                          Counselor, factor in the manufactured and uniform shape of the mystery fish's rounded top edges and I still stand by my kamaboko theory.

                                    2. re: Professor Salt

                                      Whatever it is, it's a pretty shoddy looking set. The individual fish looks good, but you really wouldn't see something put together this way served to you in Japan. If it is kamaboko, which is what it certainly looks like, then you're getting ripped off. It's the equivalent of being served a crab cake with a lot of filler.

                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                        That was my first reaction as well. Looks like an amateur made and plated it.

                                      2. re: Professor Salt

                                        Thanks, Professor! But isn't it odd that it would be on a sashimi plate?

                                        1. re: chowmeow

                                          It would be odd, which is why I think it's not kamaboko. If you order a sashimi plate, the main components should all be sashimi, not surimi. I still think the most likely suspect is escarole.

                                          1. re: chowmeow

                                            Yes it's odd. But there's places that serve krab sticks as real crab, so who knows? *shrug*

                                            1. re: Professor Salt

                                              True. Isn't it awful when a restaurant serves it as nigiri and calls it crab?!

                                          2. re: Professor Salt

                                            Definitely not. Perhaps this is a regional thing, but that white fish is included in the sashimi deluxe at nearly all of the Korean sushi joints in my area (suburban Philadelphia). It absolutely is not any kind of fishcake. It is a fin fish without question and I suspect that it is escobar.

                                            I love this question because it compels me to go out this week and find the name of the fish!

                                            1. re: Professor Salt

                                              I disagree, I have never seen fishcake served as "raw" sashimi, it being a clearly cooked and processed food.

                                              When I looked at the pic, I said, yeah, I've had that and I also had no idea what it was.
                                              I can add, what I had was definately, not processed, not cooked, not squid, scallop, octopus, or other shellfish, it was very mild and clean in taste, no definitive "grain", tho. Density was more firm than not, but no "chew".

                                          3. Here's a picture I found of escolar nigiri.


                                            Seems like it might be a match.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Humbucker

                                              Thanks for the pic - it does look similar indeed. I'm curious about escolar. In all the time I spent in Japan, and also in NYC, I've never been served it. I've seen white tuna in the last few years, but what I've had was not nearly as opaquely white as that in the picture. What is it called in Japanese? Is it more common in the West Coast?

                                              1. re: chowmeow

                                                White tuna in japanese is shiro (white) maguro (tuna). Shiro Maguro is albacore tuna. However, sometimes escarole is called white tuna. Escarole is not the same thing as albacore tuna. Compared to hon maguro, shiro maguro is a light pink, tends to be lighter in flavor and has a creamier texture. Shiro maguro is also most often served tataki style at American sushi bars because it doesn't look so good when it's been sitting around for a while.

                                                Here's a picture of shiro maguro:


                                                1. re: Humbucker

                                                  You keep saying escarole, not escolar. Escarole is a green not a fish.

                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                    Yeah you're right. I'm an idiot. It's probably because I rarely eat or even think about either.

                                                    1. re: JMF

                                                      So, what is a green fish called?

                                              2. it looks like squid, there are no "flakes" or anything..it is just solid white. If its squid, you will know it because it will have a texture unlike any of the other sashimi you are eating. But it's cooked squid, raw squid is more opaque.

                                                raw squid, cooked squid, they both taste delicious

                                                But if it's fish I have no clue on earth what the heck it is

                                                1. Why don't you take the photo with you when you dine there next time and you can solve the mystery for all of us;o)

                                                  1. that white one definitely looks like white tuna (i never knew the real name) - in Toronto, it's pretty common to find it on sashimi platters.

                                                    1. I know you said that the mystery white fish was firm, and I know it looks awfully white, but any chance it could be scallop?

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: LizATL

                                                        prob not. scallops are more of an ivory and also scallops are...round. those were clearly white slices of something and the most likely suspect is escolar which is inexpensive and very white colored, smooth in texture w/ practically no grain.

                                                      2. Yeah, I knew about the color issue and on second glance they are really uniform and more oval. Hmmm.

                                                        1. I think there is some grain. Look closely at the second piece from the right, you can make out some sinews running vertically in a SW direction.

                                                          1. It's albacore. I'm 99% sure of it. I used to work at a sushi restaurant.

                                                            Additionally... you're in Southern California, are you not?

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: linlinchan

                                                              It looks like white tuna to me too. Escolar is my guess because albacore is supposedly slightly pinkish.

                                                              1. re: mimolette

                                                                re: the white fish--I, have often gotten it on sashimi plates and wondered what it was. Frankly, it is my least favorite fish. I find it mushy and about as flavorful as water. Way too unstructured or flavored---sort of like something that has been frozen and thawed, losing its texural & flavoral (fake word) essence. I'd love to finally have a confirmed name, just so that I might say "I'll have a Sashimi Deluxe, hold the 'xxxxxx'!"

                                                            2. The mystery fish looks like butterfish or sablefish to me.

                                                              1. Alright where did you get this sashimi platter? I need a name and a number because I intend on calling them and ending this line of speculation.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: choctastic

                                                                  Please do! This nonsense about surimi is the bad idea that just won't die and I'm not going to have an opportunity to investigate for another day or two. And now I'm more curious than ever because while I'd initially thought escolar was the answer, butterfish may be dead on...

                                                                  1. re: Kater

                                                                    I've seen and eaten butterfish and personaly I dont think that's it but hey I could be wrong.

                                                                    1. re: choctastic

                                                                      No, I don't think it's butterfish either; the kind that I've seen has visible grains and the flesh has a pinker hue.

                                                                      After ALL this speculation, I keep on wavering btwn. escolar and surimi and have settled on escolar since I know Alice and think she could detect whether it was sliced fish vs. a processed fish cake.

                                                                      Alice, did you think your query would get such a response?! You'll have to let us know what you find out when you return to the restaurant! (Was it Rumblefish or Yamamori?)

                                                                2. It might be simplistic, but I'd be tempted to show them your photo and ask for the same thing...

                                                                    1. Oh wow, I can't believe all the discussion since I last posted on Friday. I should've checked more often; I would've tried to stop the kamaboko talk; the white fish was definitely a fin fish, not a fish cake product (even though it was perfectly rounded). I think the best guess at this point is escolar. It was dense but definitely fleshy. Also I think this place is korean owned/ran (Rumblefish in Scotts Valley, near Santa Cruz CA) and Kater has seen escolar in korean sushi houses. It wasn't mushy (maybe it's mushy if it was a frozen then defrosted fish?) so I like it's dense flesh & mild flavor.

                                                                      Anyway, we went back to Rumblefish on Saturday and I got absolutely no new info on that white fish. I really tried to solve the mystery but I’m sorry it was not possible.

                                                                      First the place was packed. We didn't want to sit at the bar (sushi chefs looked way too busy to talk anyway). Our server spoke little English (actually I don't think he spoke much Japanese either), so getting any info was really hard. I didn't bring my photo (I don't have a printer at home) so I decided to ask what fish was in the Sashimi Moriawase (Asst Sashimi) that night. It was like pulling teeth. Then he went to ask the sushi chef, only to come back and say "ok". Ok...? Ok, the chef can make sashimi moriawase. Arghhhh. So I just ordered the sashimi moriawase and hoped to get the white fish then point & ask about it.

                                                                      The platter comes out and there's no mystery white fish that day. But there's a new mystery fish! A pale pink fish that's very lightly seared all around the edges. Plus remember the upper left fish that no one solidly ID'ed last time? It's here again.

                                                                      So here's the photo of the sashimi platter this time:

                                                                      The server dropped it off then ran away. He was missing for almost the duration of our meal, but I was able to ask a different server for ID help. Here’s what he ID'ed, starting from upper left corner and going clockwise :

                                                                      Tai, Sake, Hamachi, Kanpachi, Maguro, then something I couldn’t understand for that seared fish. It started with a Y or had a Y in the name (God I’m so sad, but I didn’t have a pen). It tasted frankly like ahi, the frozen red triangles often on sale at Safeway or Albertsons, but the color is clearly paler than ahi. So it could’ve been albacore, though he did NOT say shiro maguro.

                                                                      When we were almost done our server appeared to ask how things were and I asked him to ask the sushi chef the name of the seared fish. He came back saying the chef was too busy and didn’t remember. Oh well.

                                                                      So I’m sorry I couldn’t clear up the mystery of the white fish (though I think we should conclude it’s escolar). And atleast I’ve learned to ID kanpachi, which is now my current favorite sashimi fish.

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Alice Patis

                                                                          Was it Bincyo/binkyo? Which is albacore in Japanese language. For some reason Binkyo seems to always be served seared and shiro maguro is not. They are both albacore, but I've always found shiro maguro to have more of the buttery texture. Does anyone know what the difference is?

                                                                          1. re: oranj

                                                                            I don't recall that they always make this distinction in the States, esp at the lower end places but i could be wrong.

                                                                        2. the seared fish is albacore. albacore (aka shiro maguro) often comes seared on the outside.

                                                                          1. Really a fun set of posts. Beyond the mystery fish, their sashimi platter presentation is all wrong!

                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                              Ok, that begs this question: What is the "right" presentation for sashimi?

                                                                              I haven't ordered a sashimi platter in a long time, but my best reference point would be Sushi Gen in LA (nope, haven't been to Japan). Compared to Alice's photos, the slices were thinner and different types of fish weren't touching. Less greenery and garnish on the plate. Is there more to it? I guess I'm wondering if the type of fish should be arranged in a certain order?

                                                                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                You're right, there is no "right".

                                                                                On the other hand, to me the slices are a bit thick in the pictured platter and all bunched together so that they're almost standing up. I would lay them down with some overlapping and use the greens more judiciously. The citrus slices and greens might be better placed under and at the sides of the sashimi. More of the plate itself could be shown--meaning a bigger platter. A bit of an angle to the sashimi. And are those carrots?

                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                  No, they are a particular kind of popular, orange, pickled gobo that are a trademark of Korean-owned Japanese restaurants in Southern California, the only places I've ever seen it before.

                                                                                  Which is exactly why I was sure it was in California. It's funny, but presentation says a lot about location, as well.

                                                                                  1. re: linlinchan

                                                                                    You've never seen gobo at Japanese-owned Japanese restaurants, at all? or as a sashimi garnish? It's common in salmon skin rolls (and salmon skin salad) at the least and I've also seen it in veggie rolls - not exactly "traditional" sushi to be sure. I've seen this in many Japanese-owned restaurants. (I'm in Southern Calif. so maybe that part of your theory is correct.) However, I've never seen gobo as a garnish for sashimi, nor have I seen a sashimi assortment presented quite like the one the OP received.

                                                                                    1. re: Debbie W

                                                                                      Not orange pickled gobo, no. Then again, I don't usually get rolls, I get sashimi or chirashi. Perhaps there are more rolls out there that use it that I am unfamiliar with, but I have lived on the East Coast, the Midwest and in Western Japan and never seen that orange gobo in any of those places.

                                                                                2. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                  There's an aesthetic sensibility that you learn to appreciate when you see enough Japanese plating, and my first reaction to the OP's photo was a slight cringe. Seemed to me like the pieces for one, were way too large, and seemed to be plopped down willy-nilly, or as devoid of elegance as a city grid. Also, the choice of fish seemed, well, Americanized. It's an indication to me that the place is avoidable. I realize Scotts Valley isn't a Japanese food oasis, but at least you can drive about a half hour and be closer to one in San Jose.

                                                                                  1. re: E Eto

                                                                                    The plating reminded me of the packaged sashimi combos at Nijiya Market in Mountain View: very efficient use of space.

                                                                                    1. re: E Eto


                                                                                      "Willy-nilly" is the appropriate word for the aesthetics and the selection... Each fish is leaning in a different direction... The shredded daikon is unkempt... Garnishes are piled on top of the fish...The shiso leaves look wet...everything is crammed on the plate...More of a concern is what kind of food experience is this supposed to be? The portion here would be for half a dozen people in Japan. is this meant for one? Is this some sort of raw fish entre?...Why is everything crammed on the plate? It's like a bizzarro mix of American sense of value and quantity, with a percieved Japanese taste. Why salmon AND tuna?...Thickness of the cuts is an issue too. Thick cuts of toro are not unusual since it can "melt". But akami and hamachi cut this thick is a choking hazard...What are the lemons for? I'm assuming that's a Korean thing. In Japan you might see thin lemon slices between scallop slices or added to seared tuna or salmon. I've never seen it used for raw fish. The acid in lemon would adversly affect the oil in the fish, but maybe I'm missing something....The choice of fish is Americanized. No squid, octopus, or shellfish is odd. They would add not only different types of consistency, but a fresh taste as well. All the fish in this set are fairly heavy, oily types. There's no fluke for a lighter taste and nice snap, no saba, aji or other shiny fish for a different taste. Just fleshy fish are represented. The lack of squid or shellfish is really a shock, as that's usually a way for the chef to prove the freshness of his neta- being that those items are not usually defrosted and served- which which you can easily do with oily-fleshy fish....Finally, you just can't served raw fish when different types are in contact with each other. You might do that family-style sitting around your house. But being served like that in a restaurant is a no-no. This is sashimi, not a pile of french fries and mozzerella sticks!..There's got to be better than this in that part of the country.

                                                                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                        Thanks for everyone's responses. Alice and I live in the same area, and for whatever reason, many of the sushi places around here are Korean-owned. I wish someone would open a Korean restaurant instead, although not every Korean has to stick w/ Korean food, etc. A Japanese place downtown just revamped itself w/ a new name and I saw an ad stating that they now serve Korean bbq as well.

                                                                                        I'm very hesitant to order sushi platters of any sort in this area, so I just order individual nigiri. I'm curious at how my favorite Japanese-owned place in Watsonville would construct their sashimi plate, so may look into that next time...

                                                                                        Anyhow, LA Sushi Gen's deluxe sashimi platter used to be HUGE...good for a few people to share w/ a couple of other items. Plate was large and able to accommodate w/o cramming. Nice balance of fish, shellfish, minced stuff, skin, tamago.

                                                                                        Which brings me to another question: What's up w/ the chirashi bowl? My husband used to get that once in a while and everything is piled together in a relatively small bowl, not very appetizing to me. Doesn't seem to fit w/ Japanese aesthetic. Is this common in Japan? I'm guessing a country- or home-style version?

                                                                                        1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                          I think there are two types of chirashi sushi: Kansai ("gomokuzushi") & Edo styles. Both are served in rice bowls, with the former, all the ingredients are mixed; the latter, the ingredients are arranged atop rice.

                                                                                          1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                            Chirashizushi is a completely different dish that happens to contain sashimi. It's usually a lunchtime entre.

                                                                                  2. I agree this place is very Americanized - after all it's in Scotts Valley CA and there was not one Japanese diner in that full house that night. I'm sure they all go to Watsonville or San Jose (which is actually 45 minutes away, much more than we're willing to drive for a regular dinner when I'm too tired to cook). So anyway being in this podunk town I can see how this place answers to the American value of bigger is better, plus the American preference for tuna, salmon, hamachi & other safe bland fish (like escolar!).

                                                                                    Also clearly this platter is meant for sharing, so maybe the arrangement is more homely or family style than trying for any aesthetics. And when it's 23 pieces for $30 they're clearly answering to value over aesthetics. Which was fine for us since we weren't expecting much, just fresh fish.

                                                                                    Actually after that whole back & forth I went through asking what was in the moriawase, the server then seemed to ask me what did I want in the moriawase, and since the menu priced the moriawase as $30 & up, I thought that opened up the possibility of getting more expensive sashimi, so I asked for "anything special, not the usual things like tuna, salmon, hamachi; whatever the chef thinks is special". Then hubby asked for it to have sake since that's his only favorite fish, and that's the only fish our server ended up writing down. So I'm sure he never even conveyed my "anything special" to the sushi chef. Yeah I could've asked for ika, or ama ebi, or hotate individually but I really didn't know what they had that night.

                                                                                    And yes I realize you need to sit at the bar to request specific fish but the sushi chefs at this place didn't seem like they were open to talking to diners that night, they were so busy.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Alice Patis

                                                                                      Alice, your thread has re-emerged like the Phoenix after seven months. I didn't see any of the posts after I mentioned the poor plating and presentation. Several people followed with similar or related comments. I would add it takes the same amount of time and effort to plate nicely or to plate badly. A lot of the fun of preparing a sashimi plate for others is plating it to be a visual treat!

                                                                                    2. It's called "White Tuna", but is albacore. I order it every weekend at my sushi joint in Southern California.

                                                                                      1. I recently was served your "mystery fish" with my combination sashimi order, and the chef called it, "Super White Tuna (a.k.a. escolar)." The mystery fish in your photo looks exactly the same as what I was served. I loved the taste of it!

                                                                                        I came upon your posting because I was trying to read up on whether escolar is a fish that is safe to eat raw. I guess no one has died from it yet, so I will continue to feast on this new find!