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Jan 22, 2008 06:39 PM

Kampachi vs. Kanpachi

So I was at Etchego today and had some spectacular Kanpachi. But I realized that when I was watching Iron Chef America the other night it was battle Kampachi. Basic internet research did nothing but confuse the issue.

Are these two different fish?

If so, I "think" I see Kanpachi (amber-jack) very regularly but no so much Kampachi. Why?

Sushi/fish Experts: respond!

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  1. I work in the seafood business, here's the company that sponsored Iron Chef:
    They have an excellent product.
    They are basically the same fish...yellowtail. Kampachi has taken fashion as yellowtail from Hawaii. Japanese yellowtail is often referred to as Kanpachi, and local yellowtail can be referred to as Amberjack. Confusing!
    Kampachi = Hawaiian yellowtail
    Kanpachi = yellowtail (variations for region & age
    )Amberjack = variation of yellowtail
    Bottom line: It's all pretty tasty at your favorite sushi place!

    2 Replies
    1. re: MahiMahiFish

      I looked this up on Japanese websites and didn't find anything except for one single reference that said "kanpachi" and "kampachi" were the same. Anyhow, in the Japanese language, the "m" and "n" sound is sometimes interchangeable in colloquial speaking and I always took either pronunciation to mean the same fish. It may have been transliterated differently in different places. But I've heard both "kanpachi" and "kampachi" pronounced in Japan...Definitely fishy business....

      1. re: MahiMahiFish

        They are not basically the same fish.. they ARE the same fish. It's the same word spelt differently.

        in Japanese the 'n' character sounds like an 'n' when it comes before a t sound, but sounds like an 'm' when in front of a B or P sound... so depending on the method of transliteration the japanese word becomes kanpachi or kampachi when spelt with our roman characters. say them out loud. the 'n' in kanpachi becomes an 'm' when speaking normally.

      2. Interesting. I thought yellowtail was hamachi....??

        3 Replies
        1. re: linguafood

          I've read they are the same genus, different species. They are less fatty and leaner than hamachi. Actually, "hamachi" is even more confusing since a full grown fish in that species, caught in the wild, is known as "buri". And while young "buri" can be called "hamachi", farm cultivated versions of the species, which grow to a smaller size then their wild brethren, are also called "hamachi". I guess they all have yellow tails though...

          1. re: Silverjay

            Yeah, and as long as they're all tasty, who really cares what they're called? I love butterfish at my fave sushi joint, aka white tuna aka apparently perhaps a bunch of other fish (according to a separate thread on this board). But again, what gives. It's all good if it's fresh and delicious.

            1. re: Silverjay

              If you go to the link provided above by mahi, it actually suggests that, their Kampachi at least, is very fatty and also very high in omega-3 fatty oils....

              I feel both more knowledgable and more confused at exactly the same time.

          2. I've seen it Romanized both ways... Might it be due to the influence of the two major variants of the ever-popular Hepburn Romanization system for Japanese? In the original Hepburn Romanization it would have been written as "kampachi", while in the Revised Hepburn Romanization it would be written-up as "kanpachi".


              "a descendent of the Hawaiian wild kahala"

              the term "kampachi" was coined by fishery Kona-Blue


              I've enjoyed the kampachi I've had; particularly a special offered at the Indianapolis Oceanaire.


              unfortunately, it's getting more and more trendy

              2 Replies
              1. re: aelph

                A descendent of kahala, also known as Almaco Jack. But we are trying to figure out what the difference is from Kanpachi.

                Are you saying the Kampachi is the proprietary name of the fish Kona-Blue raises and is completely different than Kanpachi? If that is the case it would seem to make sense as Kanpachi is usually decribed a type of yellowtail best eaten before three years old that seems to be described often as Amber Jack in English though, Mahi above suggests that isn't exactly the case.

                If I follow so far this is what we know.

                Kampachi--The proprietary name for a type of yellowtail (kahala or almaco jack) raised by the Kona Blue farms in Hawaii

                Kanpachi--A type of yellowtail best eaten before three years old that when served in U.S. sushi restaurant may or may not be of the Amber Jack variety.

                Am I getting this?

                1. re: ellaystingray

                  Ok. I've looked into this some more. Kanpachi and kampachi are the same. They are different transliterations of the Japanese word for the type of yellowtail we usually call amberjack . The kanji looks like this- "間八".

                  The link posted above is for a Hawaiian company that practices open ocean farming. Japanese would call the fish "kan" or "kampachi" and there is apparently a Hawaiian term for it, but the company has created a marketing brand by riffing on the Japanese and called it "kona kampachi". The fish are fed and raised to be high in omega-3, fatty, and otherwise described as quite delectable. This is a very similar approach to what Japanese have done with another species of yellowtail that they've raised in open water style farming in the Japan inland sea. That fish is also bred to be fattier and more appealing. That fish is called "hamachi", but it's not branded. I'm not sure myself on the farming styles, but the approach of breeding and branding of the Hawaiian fish is obvious. This approach was touched on in quite amount of detail in Sasha Issenberg's excellent "The Sushi Economy". Anyhow, things can get kind of confusing in Japan because the term "hamachi" used in the Osaka area typically refers to a young, immature yellowtail buri, which in Tokyo is otherwise known as "inada". As it is, hamachi is not a particularly prized fish. I never see it really featured or touted by restaurants. It's usually something that's on a menu. Wild caught kanpachi though seems a notch above in quality. The most prized of all the yellowtail, as I've mentioned above, is the more mature "buri" or more specifically, "kan buri" or "winter buri" which is caught round about this time of year from the Sea of Japan. Winter buri makes excellent, thickly cut marbled sashimi or grilled filets that are basted, often in teriyaki sauce. It's also good for sushi. And well, I have to come clean and mention that I dined on winter buri every which way last month in Japan...But I digress....

                  I'm interested in "kona kampachi". I haven't seen it on menus here in the east, but I'm going to look out for it. Sounds nice. I'm assuming unless it's branded or touted as such on the menu, it's not the farm raised fattened stuff you typically encounter but wild caught amberjack. Does this clarify or confuse more?

              2. in the japanese language there's no such thing as the letter 'm,' only ma mi mu me mo myo. so, kampachi is obviously not a japanese word(as most would lead you to believe); so i think it should go by kaNpachi, which would be grammatically correct. the N being a kind of silent-n type of thing. look it up if you care.

                2 Replies
                1. re: rarirurero

                  I think the "m" used in kampachi comes from spelling out the phonetic pronunciation for most people. When saying, "kanpachi," the lips naturally transition from finishing the "n" sound to an "m" in preparation for pronouncing the "p." I knew a few folks with the last name, "Nanba," but spelled it, "Namba." Again, it's that transition from the "n" to the pursing of the lips in preparation for sounds like "p" or "b." But yes, no syllables ending in "m" in the written language...

                  1. re: rarirurero

                    Warning: linguistic pedantry alert!

                    ma mi mu me mo, mya, <and also> myo, myu.

                    My two cents? It's written the same way, pronunciation is regional dialect or vernacular.