- ipsedixit Apr 28, 2014 07:44 PM
Anyone have keiji salmon in recent months (say past 6 months) in LA?
Last I heard of someone offering keiji salmon was at Yamakase.
Had that at Sushiko Honten in Ginza last year. It was incredibly delicate. As for L.A., try asking Yama-san - he might special-order it for you.
It is indeed the.best.salmon.ever.
I've had it from Yama-san many times over the years at the Hump and subsequently at Yamakase. I do believe that it's seasonal, however, so may not be available for special order at any time, even by Yama-san. I'm thinking it's an October - November kind of a thing.
Wow. And I thought Copper River was expensive (thought worth it) Would love to know if anyone finds this!
TheOffalo, you are correct they are very closely related and essentially the same thing, but their names are not interchangeable. Both names refer to the same type of salmon ("oncorhynchus keta" aka "shirazake" or "white salmon"), and they're both young/immature and very fatty chum salmon. However, they're caught in different seasons and different places: Keiji are found around November, while Tokishirazu are found around May-June.
Re: the Keiji (infant) salmon, the chum salmon normally return to their native habitat when they're about 5-6 years old to lay eggs, but once in a blue moon a lost infant salmon (1-2 years old, and thus sexually underdeveloped) will follow the adults back to the spawning place (though it has no roe to lay). They're caught with the adult chum salmon around Autumn, peak season typically around early-mid November.
Re: Tokishirazu, the name Tokishirazu, which roughly translates to "not knowing the time," is used because these salmon are caught not in the Autumn with the adult chum salmon, but instead in the Spring/Early Summer along the coast with other types of fish. The Tokishirazu salmon headed up a few months too early.
They're both infant/immature chum salmon, and because they haven't traveled as much as the adult chum salmon, they have much higher fat content than more mature specimens. I believe, however, that Keiji salmon are probably the fattiest variety, as they typically have about 20-30% fat content, while the Tokishirazu salmon often have between 10-30% fat content. For reference, adult chum salmon have fat content in the single digits. It's said that the rich taste of these infant salmon is due not only to the high fat content, but also to the salmon not having shared any of its nutrients with any roe. I don't know...but anyway I've had the Keiji salmon and it's excellent.
Note that they are also referred to as "eunuch salmon," because they are sexually underdeveloped. Thus some joking itamae will refer to them with the double entendre that the salmon has "lost his/her way..."
In the SF Bay Area, you can sometimes find Keiji salmon at Akiko's Restaurant in SF and Sawa in Sunnyvale in the Autumn (usually around November). I haven't looked around for Tokishirazu salmon, but I'm looking forward to trying Kiriko's when I travel to LA this season.
Anyway, right now you'll be finding Tokishirazu salmon, not Keiji salmon, though they're both immature white salmon with very high fat content.
Sure thing, I'm glad to contribute.
A couple other notes on the difference, since I can't make edits anymore to last night's post. I want to clarify a little bit when I said that they're "essentially the same thing." The Keiji and Tokishirazu salmon are the same species of chum salmon, but Keiji salmon are kind of the holy grail of salmon, and they're more expensive than even the Tokishirazu salmon. Sometimes Keiji salmon are called "illusion salmon" because they are an extreme rarity. In Japan, outside of these varieties, salmon sushi is not very common at all. But please note that while these are technically river salmon (migration runs near the Amur river), they are safe to eat raw because they are flash frozen to kill off parasites.
Both the Keiji and Tokishirazu salmon from Hokkaido (Rausu fisherman's town, specifically) are very prized, and most producers will put a blue & orange tag by the cheek certifying their authenticity (see photos). Hokkaido's topography and cold, fast waters are especially conducive to high fat content (and awesome seafood in general).
Since Keiji salmon are found in the colder season, they may have a slightly higher fat content on average (and Tokishirazu are sometimes bigger in size). Therefore, Keiji salmon are best used for sashimi as they are too delicate for cooking. However, Tokishirazu salmon can be eaten as sashimi or prepared grilled simply with some sea salt and served with rice and pickles. Also, due to their high fat content, both types are best killed ike-jime / katsu-jime and they are sometimes marinated kasuzuke (old school preservation method using sake lees, mirin, salt, fish sauce, cane sugar, and Rausu kelp) before shipping out from Hokkaido.
It's doubtful that a Kiwami by Katsuya's "premium salmon" is Keiji salmon, especially now since they're not in season. If they were indeed Keiji salmon I'm sure that a restaurant would use that specific name. If a restaurant is offering "premium salmon," "young salmon," or "salmon toro," that is not likely referring to Keiji salmon. Kind of like if a restaurant is serving you Ohmi beef, they will be sure to tell you that with the specific name. Though if an itamae says that the salmon "lost its way," then you know it's probably something special.
Also, Keiji salmon or Tokishirazu are not the "sakura masu" or "cherry salmon/trout" as some say (they are a different species of salmon altogether), though the nomenclature of neta is not always used consistently (e.g. the names of "aji," "hirame," etc.)
Even if these kinds of salmon are very hard to find, good alternatives exist in California. Kiriko seems to always have a great selection of salmon throughout the year and the off-the-menu special marinated salmon at Maruya may be some of the best salmon sushi I've had in years.