A Guide to Making Fantastic Yellowtail Sushi

There are many different types of sushi that people enjoy. However, some people might want to try a certain type of sushi with a specific ingredient. This is why it helps to know how to make these particular sushi types, such as yellowtail sushi.

Yellowtail amberjack fish (sushi grade) is generally used to make yellowtail sushi; you will not cook it. You can make either yellowtail nigiri or yellowtail sushi rolls. You will first need to prepare the sticky rice, then the other ingredients, and the yellowtail, before combining them.

If you’re interested in making fantastic yellowtail sushi, read on. There’s a lot of information about this type of fish and how to make this type of sushi, which can really benefit you.

Background Information on Yellowtail Fish

There are a few reasons why you might want to eat yellowtail fish in particular. It’s one of the most popular types of fish that people order at sushi restaurants.

Yellowtail fish that is used to make sushi is not a type of tuna, despite popular misconceptions. Many people might think this because of the yellowtail tuna that typically lives off of the coasts of the US.

In fact, there are a few different kinds of yellowtail fish. These include: 

  • yellowtail snapper
  • longfin yellowtail
  • cape yellowtail
  • yellowtail flounder
  • yellowtail bass, and many others

However, most of the time, when people talk about yellowtail fish, they are talking about Japanese amberjack. This is a fish that lives in the waters between Hawaii and Japan. When people catch them, it’s typically in the regions of Toyama and Horukku.

This fish is particularly suited to be used raw in a sushi roll. The tail fin actually looks similar to that of the yellowtail tuna, but they are two different kinds of fish.

This fish is also known as yellowtail amberjack, king amberjack, and racing tuna. It has a sleek body that includes a yellow stripe all the way across, including yellowtail. The fish usually grows to be 10 to 20 pounds (4.54 to 9.07 kg) in weight.

Even though the yellowtail amberjack is a distinct fish from tuna, it is related to tuna. Generally, the flesh is a light pink color, with a little bit of darkness around the edge of the fillet. If you decide to cook it, the fish will become firmer, turning more white in color.

Yellowtail Traditions in Japan

Historically, people in Japan usually ate yellowtail fish in the wintertime. This is because these fish have higher fat content in these months of the year. Depending on the weight of the fish, Japanese people refer to them as either buri or hamachi.

The custom is for sea farmers to gather fish eggs located under seaweed in May of each year. They farm these fish in very big cages located in the ocean, although yellowtails are sometimes fished wild.

One thing that you might want to take note of when you are buying this fish for your sushi is that farmed fish is often less likely to contain parasites when compared to fish that are caught directly from the wild.

When fish eggs are farmed, they are then sold to aquaculturists. These aquaculturists will raise them until they reach certain weights. If they grow to be three kilograms, they are referred to as buri, and if they grow to be five kilograms, they are referred to as hamachi.

Different Yellowtail Preparations

There are a few different ways in which yellowtail fish is prepared and enjoyed. In Korea, chefs tend to slice the fish into thin pieces and serve it raw. It’s typically wrapped in leaves, either sesame leaves or lettuce. Then, it’s garnished with either garlic or chili paste and then wrapped in the leaves.

There are a few common preparations in Japan as well. For example, chefs can lightly fry yellowtail fish and use it to make a very popular and delectable soup.

However, perhaps the most popular way to prepare yellowtail fish is as one of the core ingredients in sushi. It can be either part of a sushi roll or nigiri (a type of sushi that includes a piece of raw fish on top of sushi rice).

If you enjoy it as part of a roll, typically, it will be combined with vegetables, such as avocado and cucumber slices. You can also enhance the flavor of the roll with different dipping sauces. You can choose to eat it with wasabi, soy sauce, or hot sauce if this is your preference.

A lot of people enjoy eating yellowtail fish with either beer, sake, or green tea. If you don’t know what combinations are going to please your particular flavor palette, you can simply try different dipping sauces, side ingredients, and drinks to see what your own personal preferences are.

If you feel you need more guidance, you can actually ask the chef who is preparing it what they would recommend.

Is Yellowtail Fish Healthy?

There are also quite a few health benefits that come with yellowtail fish. Most of the time, people would say that the less fat, the better. However, when you’re talking about fish, it’s good to have high-fat content. As you’ve already seen, this is why yellowtail fish is most popular in the winter in Japan.

Yellowtail fish has a very high protein content. For every 3.5 oz serving of yellowtail fish, there are about 23 grams of protein. This serving also contains about 146 calories. This is good to know for people trying to track the amount of protein they are consuming every day or counting calories.

Yellowtail fish is considered a fatty fish, although there are other types of sushi fish containing more fat.

It is an amazing source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are good fats that will bring you many benefits. These include, but are not limited to: 

This fish also has many vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and selenium.

How Does Yellowtail Fish Taste?

If you’re going to be using yellowtail fish in your sushi, you probably want to know exactly how it tastes first. While there is no way to know this without actually trying it, a brief description might help.

The fish has a light taste and has been described to have a flavor that is almost buttery and even a little bit sweet. If you sear the fish, it typically will not have the same oily taste unless you actually sear it in oil. In some cases, the yellowtail fish might have a tangy taste as well.

Many people have said that the darker portions of this fish have a stronger characteristic “fishy” taste when compared to the lighter portions. If you’re not a big fan of the typical fish taste, you might want only the lighter portions to make your sushi roll.

Hamachi (fish that weigh over five pounds) is extremely popular when it comes to yellowtail fish within sushi, so you might want to keep this in mind.

Even though it is certainly a matter of personal preference, this yellowtail fish is normally a much better choice for sushi rolls than the tuna with which it is commonly confused. Tuna is somewhat drier in texture, although some might say that it is good when used combined with the yellowtail amberjack.

Is Yellowtail Roll Raw?

Most of the time, the yellowtail fish in a sushi roll will be raw. Some restaurants will cook it slightly, but this is not that common. Japanese amberjack is also considered extremely tasty when it is raw, so it is definitely worth trying out without cooking.

You should keep in mind that if you are going to eat raw fish, it is crucial that you make sure that it is sushi grade. If it is not, you could end up getting really sick if you eat it. The majority of sushi-grade yellowtail fish are raised within fish farms. Here, the fish can grow to their full size without the presence of stress, and they are more likely to be healthy.

However, if you decide to cook it for whatever reason, there are a few ways that work better than others. The best suggestion would be to either saute, lightly sear, broil, or grill this fish. There are a few reasons why you might elect to cook it for your sushi.

For example, even though sushi-grade fish is generally safe to consume raw, this might not be the case if one of the people who will be eating it is pregnant. This is because it’s possible that there would be mercury in the fish that would not be safe to consume in this condition.

What Is in a Yellowtail Sushi Roll?

If you want to know what is typically in a yellowtail sushi roll, the answer is that it can contain anything you want in addition to the yellowtail fish. However, some typical recipes are used since certain ingredients will pair better with this fish than others.

Here is the typical list of ingredients in a yellowtail sushi roll:

  • Nori (seaweed paper)
  • Sushi rice
  • Strips of yellowtail fish
  • Green onion, or scallions, finely chopped

You might wonder why there are so few ingredients, but the truth is that the yellowtail fish will provide you a lot of flavor on its own. In addition, you can use other flavoring ingredients, such as ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.

How to Make Yellowtail Nigiri

If you want to make yellowtail sushi, making yellowtail nigiri is your simplest and easiest bet. This is what you might want to start with if you don’t feel confident in your ability to roll sushi at this point. You can use all of the same ingredients and experience the same flavor combinations without the frustration of potentially messing up your sushi roll.

As previously mentioned, yellowtail nigiri is just a slice of yellowtail fish on top of sushi rice. In order to make this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups of uncooked white sushi rice
  • 1/2 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 100 grams of yellowtail fish
  • 5 grams of wasabi
  • 50 grams of soy sauce
  • 20 grams of ginger

Here are the steps in making a Yellowtail Nigiri:

  1. The first thing you will need to do is to cook your sushi rice. Even though the yellowtail fish is probably the defining ingredient in terms of flavor, the sushi rice is actually more important in terms of structure. It needs to be sticky so that you will easily be able to mold it.
  2. To cook the sushi rice, pour two cups of uncooked white rice (thoroughly rinsed) into a saucepan with three cups of water. Bring the water to a boil. Once it is boiling, put the heat on low and cook the rice for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. Once you see that is cooked, let it cool down to room temperature.
  3. In a separate pan, mix together the rice vinegar, sugar, oil, and salt. Cook this mixture over medium heat, and then let it cool down once it is cooked. Stir it thoroughly and evenly into the cooked rice, and continue to let the rice cool down.
  4. Once you have the rice flavored and ready, mold it into five or six oblong shapes. Then, put one slice of yellowtail fish atop each of the rice balls. Put a little bit of wasabi on the underside of each piece of yellowtail (alternatively, you can put the wasabi on the side if you think that some of the people who are going to be enjoying this meal won’t like it).
  5. Serve your yellowtail nigiri with ginger and soy sauce, and enjoy!

How to Make a Yellowtail Sushi Roll

If you’re up for a little bit more of a challenge, you can try to make a yellowtail sushi roll. It will give you flavors that are just as delicious as the yellowtail nigiri, with the added sense of accomplishment that comes from putting together a well-crafted sushi roll.

Before we tell you the recipe for a yellowtail sushi roll, we will give you a little tutorial on rolling sushi. You need to know these things to put together a good sushi roll of any kind.

How to Roll Sushi

Before you start making your yellowtail sushi roll, you should know exactly how to roll sushi. There is a series of steps that you can use that will make this easier for you. If you are a beginner or novice, you should use a bamboo mat to make sushi. To go through this process, you are going to need a few items:

  • Bamboo sushi mat
  • Plastic wrap
  • Sticky rice
  • Seaweed paper (nori)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Sushi fillings (in this case, yellowtail and extras)

Take note that you will need to prepare the rice before using it in the sushi roll. Additionally, before you start using the bamboo mat, you should make sure all of your ingredients are ready to be rolled into the final product.

Prepare All of the Ingredients

The first thing you will need to do is gather all of your ingredients and make sure they are prepared for the final sushi roll. You should cut all of the fillings of your choice, which include the yellowtail fish, into thin strips. This will make them much more amenable to the rolling process. You will also need to prepare sushi rice, also known as sticky rice.

The rice that will be best for your sushi roll will be either short or medium-grain white rice. This is much easier to prepare into sticky rice than other varieties. Before you cook the rice, rinse it until you don’t see any cloudiness in the water around it.

You want to make sure to get rid of any rice powder, powdered glucose, or talc that might form a residue on the rice grains. If you leave this residue on the rice, it could end up compromising the flavor of your sushi in the end.

After this, put your rice into a bowl with a volume of water three times the rice volume. Shuffle the rice grains around with your hands since this will help take away any remaining powder that might still be on the rice.

Now, pour the rice and water into a mesh strainer. Repeat this process until you see that the water coming out on the other side is not cloudy at all anymore.

It is now time to cook rice. Once it is cooked, and it is of a sticky consistency, allow it to cool down until it is at room temperature. When it is at room temperature, it will be easier for you to work with.

Put a little bit of rice vinegar on the rice once it is at room temperature. This will give it a flavor that most people find to be very palatable. Make sure that it is evenly distributed throughout the rice.

Make Sure the Bamboo Sushi Mat Is Ready

Before you use your bamboo sushi mat to roll the sushi, you will want to cover it up with plastic wrap or put it into a large Ziploc bag (if you can find one that’s big enough). You will want to do this because otherwise, the sushi rice grains are very likely to stick to the mat. This can be very difficult and arduous to clean up.

Put Down the Seaweed Paper

Once you have the bamboo mat prepared, it’s time to put down one half-sheet of seaweed paper, or nori. Make sure to put it so that the shiny side is facing down. Also, align the edges of the nori with the edges of your bamboo sushi mat as accurately as you can.

Put Down the Layer of Sushi Rice

You will want to put a layer of sticky rice directly on top of the seaweed wrap. The layer of rice should be about 1/4 inch thick. Leave about half an inch of seaweed paper without rice on top at every one of the four edges. This will give you room to seal up the sushi roll when you are done.

Also, make sure that the layer of rice is even on top of the nori. If you have a hard time ensuring this with your hands alone, you can use a wooden spoon to even it out.

Arrange the Fillings

Once you have an even layer of rice on top of the seaweed paper, it’s time to put down all the fillings. Do this so they are lying on top of the rice lengthwise, making all of the ingredients easier to roll. You can try to center the ingredients on top of the rice, or you can put them in a neat row about an inch from the bottom of the mat, with respect to your position.

Roll Your Sushi

Now, it’s finally time to roll your sushi! First, you’ll want to use a few drops of water to slightly wet the edges of the seaweed paper that you have not covered with rice. This is because it will make it easier for you when you are trying to seal up your sushi roll at the very end.

Once you have done this, begin folding one end of your bamboo sushi mat with all the materials on top towards the other side. Roll it tightly, and utilize your fingers to guide all of the fillings to the middle of your sushi roll.

When you have completely rolled your sushi mat, make sure that it is in the shape of a very neat tube. Once you have this tube, and it’s completely covered with the bamboo mat, squeeze it gently. You want to seal it up and make it firm, and then you can use your hands to shape it just as you want to.

Remove the Mat

Once you have your sushi roll in the shape you desire, it is time to pull out the mat. Before you do this, it should look like a rolled-up tube. Carefully extract the mat from the rest of the ingredients. If you do it too quickly or haphazardly, all of the ingredients could end up falling apart into a big mess.

You might want to gently use your fingers to tighten up all of the ingredients once you have removed the mat as well. Once you have the sushi roll that you desire, use a freshly sharpened knife to cut your sushi roll into bite-sized pieces. Serve with the dipping sauces of your choice, and enjoy.

An Easy Yellowtail Sushi Roll Recipe

Now that you know how to roll sushi, you can try your hand at making a yellowtail sushi roll. In order to do this, you are going to need a few basic ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup of sushi rice, cooked and flavored
  • 3.3 ounces of sushi-grade yellowtail fish
  • 1 sheet of seaweed paper (nori), cut into two halves horizontally
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped scallions or green onions
  • Wasabi 
  • Soy sauce
  • Pickled red ginger
  • 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of water

Here are the steps in making this recipe:

  1. Prepare the rice as described in the recipe for yellowtail nigiri. Once it is cooked and ready, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients. 
  2. Slice the yellowtail fish into ¼ inch cubes. Then, you can chop it into even smaller pieces if you would like.
  3. Put plastic over your bamboo sushi mat and lay down the nori as previously instructed. Then, spread the rice out on the nori sheet. 
  4. Put half of your chopped yellowtail fish in a neat line close to the bottom of your nori sheet. Put the scallions in a neat layer right above the fish.
  5. Try to align the edge of the seaweed sheet with the bottom edge of the bamboo match, and then start rolling as previously described. Once you have your sushi roll, use a very sharp knife to cut the roll in half.
  6. Then, cut each of the halves into three or four pieces. With every couple of cuts, you might want to clean the knife with a damp cloth to make sure you don’t make a mess. 
  7. Serve the sushi with the dipping sauces of your choice, and enjoy!


If you’re interested in making yellowtail sushi, you should be aware that it can be very challenging. Most people do not experience perfection during their first venture into the world of making sushi. However, you can be assured that practice makes perfect, and your sushi making skills will improve as you work on them.

Yellowtail fish can be a great addition to any sushi roll you want to make. If you decide to make a yellowtail sushi roll, you’ll not only get the chance to work on your sushi-making skills but also to enjoy a delicious and nutritious result afterward.


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