What Does Yellowtail Taste Like? Your Ultimate Flavor Guide

Yellowtail, a fatty fish similar to tuna, has a mild, buttery taste with a slightly sour note. It’s popular in sushi due to its texture and flavor, safe to eat raw, and versatile in cooking methods.

what does yellowtail taste like

The yellowtail amberjack fish is a popular fish among Southern cooks, deepsea fishermen, and sushi chefs the world over. It represents a staple ingredient in many cuisines, due to its delicious flavor and texture.

It’s a fish that’s similar to tuna, but is, in fact, a different species altogether. Because it often gets confused with other kinds of fish, many home cooks wonder: What does yellowtail taste like? Is it different from tuna? If so, how so?

And because it’s such a popular fish for sashimi and sushi recipes, there is also some question about whether or not it can be cooked, and if so, how to cook it. 

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Yellowtail vs. Yellowfin: What Is Yellowtail?

Yellowtail fish is a large fish — it’s 2.6 feet long and 50 to 110 pounds on average — that swims in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and the Southern Atlantic seas near Africa.

It’s also called amberjack or Japanese amberjack. It’s a fish species of the genus Seriola, which has nine recognized species of fish. 

It lives in warm, shallow subtropical waters in the wild, though it is also farmed in Japan. These fish like to swim in small schools when they’re young, though the adult yellowtail is often a solitary creature. 

Adults swim along reefs, kelp beds, and shorelines in waters that range from 64 degrees Fahrenheit to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to Sea Grant California, the yellowtail’s lifespan ranges from five to six years, with the oldest-living fish living to be 12 years old. Female amberjack fish are able to spawn by the time they turn two or three years old.

According to the University of Maine, the yellowtail fish is a fast swimmer and carnivorous. 

Additionally, some people erroneously believe that yellowtail fish are tuna but in actuality, the fish known as yellowtail tuna belongs to the amberjack family. They’re not tuna fish at all.

People confuse yellowtail fish with yellowfin tuna. The confusion between the two fish probably comes from the names. However, these two fish aren’t related at all, except maybe in color.

You can tell the difference between the two by looking at the meat of these fish. Yellowfin tuna has dark red meat, whereas yellowtail amberjack meat is slightly pink or sometimes, a creamy beige color.

Both fish are common ingredients in tuna sushi and sashimi.

What Other Fish Are Confused With Yellowtail Amberjack Fish?

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife, there is a fish called yellowtail snapper that swims off the Gulf Coast. Its coloring is brighter than the yellowtail amberjack fish.

The yellowtail snapper is a staple in Southern cuisines around the Gulf Coast for centuries.

It’s related to the red snapper, but it’s easier to get because thus far, fishermen have not overfished the yellowtail snapper like they have its red-tailed cousin.

As far as cooking and eating it, it is a flavorful fish. Its meat is firm to the touch, and its similarity to grouper and swordfish makes it a good substitute in recipes that call for those fish.

How Can You Identify Yellowtail Fish?

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Image Credit // Brian Gratwicke

Amberjack fish have some markings that give them away. Their backs usually range from a blue to an olive-green color. There will also sometimes be spots on the fish’s back.

These fish also will have a yellow streak down the sides of the body, with smaller streaks covering the fish’s undersides and belly. The dorsal and caudal fins may also be yellow in hue.

What Does Yellow Tail Taste Like? Is Yellowtail a Good Fish to Eat? 

The flavor of the yellowtail is generally mild to moderate, with a buttery texture in the mouth. It’s a fatty fish, with a flavor that can be a bit sour and sometimes, savory, depending on the type of yellowtail you’re eating.

The consistency of yellowtail is less firm consistency than that of tuna when it’s eaten. It’s a very popular fish that people enjoy very much, both as a wild fish caught out in the open waters of the ocean and as well as a farmed fish.

Is Yellowtail Sushi? 

It can be. It’s raised as a sushi fish in Japan, though it is possible to cook it as well. According to the Thrillist, it’s very underrated as a sushi fish.

Sushi chefs prepare yellowtail in a number of ways. It can be sliced and laid over rice as sashimi. It’s also good to eat as sushi rolls, with some Nori seaweed and rice vinegar to flavor it.

Some sushi chefs will use yellowtail in sushi in place of another kind of fish, like tuna.

Unlike some ocean fish, it contains very little mercury. And like most fish, it’s also an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

If I Want to Make Sushi From Yellowtail, What Should I Look For?

It’s important to note that the fish you use to make sushi at home should be labeled as sashimi / sushi-grade fish. You should also purchase it from a fish market that has a good reputation.

What Are Some Ways to Cook Yellowtail Fish? 

Like most fish, yellowtail amberjack meat responds to a number of different cooking methods.

According to LiveStrong, you can bake or grill the meat of the yellowtail amberjack. Grilling yellowtail with marinade and spices, like garlic, black pepper, chili powder, and curry adds to the flavor. You can also grill it with a bit of lemon. 

It’s additionally possible to poach the yellowtail in olive oil, along with some herbs and spices.

Finally, before you eat the fish, whether it’s sushi, sashimi, or cooked, be sure to gut the fish to get rid of its internal organs. It also needs to be scaled.

What Does Yellowtail Taste Like When It’s Cooked?

Yellowtail is a mild-tasting fish that has a taste that is somewhere between that of tuna and mahi-mahi. When it’s cooked, the meat of the fish flakes.

From a consistency standpoint, it feels a bit like steak; it’s similar in consistency to swordfish.

It’s also worth noting that the size of the fish you’re eating affects the flavor. If it’s a big fish, it’s going to have a stronger flavor.

FAQs about Yellowtail

Does yellowtail smell fishy? 

Generally speaking, if a fish smells fishy, it has started to go bad. That said, Epicurious points out that a fish will start to smell fishy in the fridge, even if it’s technically not bad. To prevent this, make sure that you eat fresh yellowtail if you’re going to have it as sushi. If you plan on cooking, make sure that you cook it right away. If the fish has been flash-frozen, you do have a bit of time, but usually, it’s best to eat it right away.

If you’re not completely sure, try soaking the fish in a milk bath for about 15 to 20 minutes before you cook it. The compounds in milk will pull the smelly compounds off the fish. If it’s still edible, the fish’s smell will change after the milk bath. It’ll take on a sweet, fresh scent again. The flavor should follow suit.

Lemon juice has been known to neutralize this issue as well, though the fish will take on a lemony taste following a treatment with lemons.

Can you cook yellowtail fish?

Yes. Yellowtail isn’t just for sushi. It can be cooked, and many methods for cooking it exist. 

What should I watch out for if I catch amberjack in the wild?

The fish has a number of parasites — about 40 or so — that tend to affix themselves to it. If you catch a yellowtail in the wild, check its tail for parasites. Cut off the tail before eating it.

Is yellowtail better than tuna?

This is really a matter of taste. Both are excellent fish and very popular in seafood dishes. Some chefs may like to work with raw tuna bit because its brilliant red color makes it eye-catching. However, this is a matter of aesthetics and not taste.

What do yellowtail amberjack fish eat?

Their diet consists of smaller animals, like small fish, crustaceans, and squids.

What are some other names for yellowtail fish?

Yellowtail fish are also called amberjack fish or Japanese amberjacks. People also call them jack fish or jacks. There are also Japanese names for the fish, including hamachi, hiramasa, and kanpachi or kampachi. Buri is also a nickname for the yellowtail fish.

What does yellowtail taste like in sushi?

Yellowtail in sushi has a taste similar to Tuna, but with a milder and cleaner flavor profile. It offers a crisp taste and a slightly chewy texture. Additionally, there are certain sections of deep red flesh that possess their own delicate yet alluring flavor. It is advisable to refrain from consuming this fish directly from the tank or opting for smaller specimens.

Is yellowtail OK to eat raw?

Yellowtail is safe to eat raw, and whenever I visit a sushi restaurant, I make sure to order either hamachi sashimi or nigiri. Hamachi, which is Japanese yellowtail, is specifically suited for consumption in its raw form.

Is yellow tail good as sashimi?

Yellowtail is good as sashimi because it is a firm fish with a high fat content, which makes it an excellent choice for this type of dish.

Is yellowtail raw in sushi?

Yellowtail is raw in sushi. Hamachi Nigiri consists of a piece of sushi rice topped with a slice of raw yellowtail. Sometimes, a small amount of wasabi is added between the rice and fish. Eating nigiri with your hands is a traditional practice.

Is yellowtail white meat?

Yellowtail is not white meat. It is important not to confuse yellowtail with yellowfin tuna, which has bright pink/red flesh. Yellowtail is actually a tasty white fish that has a buttery texture and rich flavor, thanks to its healthy fat content.

Is yellowtail a deep sea fish?

Yellowtail is a deep sea fish that can be found at depths ranging from 0 to 1800 feet. They are commonly seen along the middle continental shelf, near the ocean floor. While larvae and juveniles reside near the surface, older juveniles migrate to deeper areas close to the ocean floor.

What is the texture of yellow tail?

The texture of yellowtail is characterized by a dark muscle line along the edge of the fillets. Once cooked, the meat becomes white and firm, offering a sweet and mild flavor. The presence of high oil content in yellowtail gives its flesh a smooth and buttery texture.

What is another name for yellowtail sushi?

Another name for yellowtail sushi is hamachi or buri in Japanese, which can vary depending on the age of the fish. Yellowtail is known for its higher protein content, good fat, and abundance of vitamins A, B1, B2, and D compared to other types of fish.

Does yellowtail taste better than tuna?

Yellowtail, also known as Hamachi, offers a more delightful taste compared to tuna. It is extensively utilized for sushi in Japan, although it should be noted that yellowtail is not technically classified as tuna but rather a variety of jackfish. On the other hand, white tuna, typically albacore tuna, is commonly found in premium canned tuna options.

What fish is yellowtail similar to?

Yellowtail fish is similar to Japanese amberjack, a delicious fish that is often mistaken for tuna. It is a popular menu choice at sushi restaurants and is known for its flavorful taste. Yellowtail fish can be found living between Japan and Hawaii.

Is yellowtail chewy?

Yellowtail is not chewy at all; it has a light flavor and simply melts between your teeth. There’s everything to love about yellowtail!

Is yellowtail tuna expensive?

Yellowtail tuna is not expensive. It is commonly used for sushi, sashimi, and steaks. In Hawaiian culture, this fish is known as “ahi.” In most commercial settings, yellowtail tuna is priced at $8-$15 per pound.

What’s better albacore or yellowtail?

Albacore, also known as Bonito del Norte, is considered superior to yellowtail due to its exquisite flavor, smooth texture, and white tone. Yellowtail, on the other hand, has a reddish color and a slightly less fine texture, but it still maintains a pleasant flavor. Additionally, yellowtail is larger in size.

Is yellowtail tuna sushi grade?

Yellowtail tuna is considered sushi grade and can be eaten raw. Whether it is bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack, or albacore, any type of tuna is suitable for consumption in sushi. Tuna has a long history as a key ingredient in sushi and sashimi, and it is often seen as the quintessential symbol of these traditional Japanese dishes.

Is yellowtail a good fish to eat?

Yellowtail is a good fish to eat because it is a great source of protein, which is crucial for muscle growth and repair. Additionally, it contains an abundance of essential nutrients such as vitamin B12, B6, and minerals.

Why is yellowtail so popular?

Yellowtail is popular because they created a wine that is both smooth and sweet, making it as easy to enjoy as beer or ready-to-drink cocktails. This has led to a wine that is approachable for everyone, regardless of their level of wine expertise.

Is yellowtail safe for sushi?

Yellowtail is safe for sushi and is also known as Japanese Amberjack. It is a fatty fish with a mild flavor, making it an ideal choice for those who are new to sushi.

Is yellow tail a fatty fish?

Yellowtail is not a fatty fish. It is a popular dish in Japanese restaurants, often referred to as Hamachi or Kona Kampachi. With a rich but light, and slightly sweet taste, yellowtail sushi is enjoyed by many.

Is yellowtail or salmon healthier?

Yellowtail may be a healthier option if you want to increase your omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and selenium intake. On the other hand, if you’re seeking a fish that is rich in protein and vitamin D, then salmon might be the preferable choice.

Is yellowtail an oily fish?

Yellowtail is indeed an oily fish, known for its delicate and delicious flavor. Its flesh has a tasty buttery texture, thanks to its high oil content. With its versatile flesh, yellowtail can be fried, baked, grilled, and even used to prepare sushi or sashimi.

What is yellowtail similar to?

Yellowtail is similar to amberjack, which can be used as a great alternative because of its comparable taste and texture. Like yellowtail, amberjack is a versatile fish that can be utilized in various ways, whether it be in raw or cooked dishes.

What is the least fishy tasting sushi?

The least fishy tasting sushi is typically found in milder options. Sushi beginners can start with delicacies like hotategai (scallop), tai (red snapper), ika (squid), and ohyo (halibut), which are known for their mild flavors. Despite its rich and dark appearance, maguro (tuna) is also a mild fish commonly served in sushi restaurants.

Does yellowtail have a lot of bones?

Yellowtail does have a significant number of bones. To remove them, you can use tweezers or pliers to carefully grasp each pin bone and extract them individually. Generally, there are approximately 5-6 pin bones per fillet. However, if you are using Greenfish yellowtail fillets, you won’t have to worry about any other bones as they would have already been removed. So, with Greenfish yellowtail fillets, you can enjoy a bone-free experience.

Is yellowtail like tuna?

Yellowtail is not like tuna because they are completely different fish species. Yellowtail belongs to the genus Seriola of the family Carangidae and is typically referred to as “amberjacks.” On the other hand, yellowfin tuna is a distinct tuna species found in pelagic waters worldwide. Although they may share some similarities, such as being Atlantic and Pacific fish, yellowtail and yellowfin tuna are not the same.

Is yellowtail taste fishy?

Yellowtail does not taste fishy. It is a Japanese fish called hamachi/buri and its taste is subtle, slightly buttery with hints of banana. Although it is highly valued by fish enthusiasts, it is often excluded from American sushi bars as it is considered too fishy for the average American palate.

Is yellowtail good in sushi?

Yellowtail is good in sushi because it is a fatty fish with a mild flavor, making it an ideal choice for those new to sushi. Additionally, it is known as Japanese Amberjack and is often enjoyed by sushi enthusiasts.

What is another name for yellowtail fish?

The yellowtail fish is also known as Hamachi, king amberjack, Japanese amberjack, buri, racing tuna, Sériole du Japon, Gelbschwanz, Ricciola, and Serviola.

What is the difference between yellowtail and ahi tuna?

The difference between yellowtail and ahi tuna is that yellowtail and ahi tuna are actually the same fish. Ahi is the Hawaiian name for yellowfin tuna.

Is yellowtail a red snapper?

Yellowtail is not a red snapper, but it is a viable choice for restaurant and home cooks because it is not in danger of being overfished. The yellowtail snapper has a mild flavor and firm flesh, similar to the red snapper. You may also find the video below interesting.

How do you eat yellowtail?

The way to eat yellowtail is by enjoying yellowtail sashimi, also known as Hamachi sashimi. This Japanese delicacy involves thinly slicing fresh raw hamachi fish and serving it without rice. It is commonly enjoyed with a side of wasabi and soy sauce.

Is yellowtail the same as snapper?

Yellowtail is not the same as snapper. The yellowtail snapper, scientifically known as Ocyurus chrysurus, is a plentiful type of snapper that can be found in the western Atlantic Ocean, including the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Can yellowtail be eaten raw?

Yellowtail can be eaten raw, and it is commonly enjoyed as sashimi or nigiri at sushi restaurants. Hamachi, which is Japanese yellowtail, is particularly well-suited for raw consumption. If you are interested in preparing it yourself, I can provide you with instructions on how to do so, as well as suggestions for using different types of fish.

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