Japanese Seabass
Whole Fish [Japanese Seaperch; Seigo (Japan - under 10 inches), Fukko, Suzuki (Japan - above 20 inches); Ca Vuroc Nhat (Vietnam); Lu yu, Hua lu (China); Nong-o (Korea); Lateolabrax japonicus]

Actually a Perch, not a Bass, this fish is found from the north coast of Vietnam north around Korea to the southeast tip of Russia. Also around Japan and along the west coast of Taiwan, but not in the Philippines. Japanese Seabass can grow to 40 inches and 19 pounds, but the photo specimen was 16-3/4 inches and weighed 2 pounds 1-1/4 ounces. This fish is both caught wild and farmed. IUCN Red List NE (Not Evaluated), it is not considered endangered.

More on Perch.

Japanese Seabass flesh is white, mild flavored and tender, flaking apart very easily into large flakes. In Japan it is often eaten raw, sliced very thin and served with ponzu sauce or ponzu with light soy.

Cooking:   This is not a good fish for wet cooking, as it starts to fall apart even with a light poaching. Coating lightly with rice flour and pan frying will work fine, as will baking.

Buying:   This fish occasionally appears in Asian markets here in Los Angeles, but rarely. The Japanese market probably takes most of them.

Scales:   This fish is completely covered with small scales with moderate adhesion. They fly about moderately when scraped off.

Cleaning   No unusual problems here.

Fillet:   This is an easy fish to fillet with an easy to follow bone structure. Cut down from the top to the backbone, then over the backbone at the tail until you get to the rib cage. Cut the ribs off with kitchen shears and pull them from the fillet - they pull very easily. There are no significant centerline spines that need to be pulled.

Yield:   A 2 pound 1-1/4 ounce fish yielded 15-3/4 ounces of skin-on fillet (47%) and 14-3/4 ounces skin-off (44%).

Skin:   The skin has no strong or "off" flavor. It has moderate shrink but soon releases from the fillet. Skin-on fillets can be pan fried successfully lightly dusted with rice flour. When turned skin side down the fillet will curl a bit but within a few seconds can be patted flat with your turner.

Stock:   The heads (well cleaned and split), bones and fins simmered slowly for about 40 minutes make a light flavored, nearly clear and serviceable stock with little oil. Remove what oil there is using your gravy separator.

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