Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Arabesque greenling, also called Okhotsk Atka mackerel. (Pleurogrammus azonus). ほっけ。

Hokke is a species of mackerel. It is a grey fish with a light brown stripe, about 40 cm long. As a species it is is closely related to and therefore often confused with the Atka mackerel (Pleurogrammus monopterygius). Caught in Japan's northern waters (Northwest Pacific: Sea of Okhotsk and Kuril Islands down to Ibaraki Prefecture and Tsushima and the Yellow Sea) from early winter to spring. This type of fish is found exclusively in the northern Pacific.

[Grilled Hokke. Photo Ad Blankestijn]

High fat content. Usually eaten grilled (as in the photo above) or simmered. In the past not very popular (it was even called "rat fish") as it looses its freshness rather quickly, but that is in modern refrigerated times no problem anymore. The Japanese started eating hokke when the herring around Hokkaido disappeared due to over-fishing. Hokke formed an important source of protein in the years after WWII. It also became a fixed item on the menus of izakaya. The fact that the bones are easy to remove also added to its modern popularity.