What Does Yellowtail Taste Like?

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The yellowtail fish is a common menu choice at most restaurants serving sushi. While you may have heard the name referring to tuna, we’re talking about the specie that lives between Japan and Hawaii. Yeah, it’s hard for most of us to know what does a yellowtail taste like considering the fact that it’s not available everywhere.

Yellowtail fishes are known for their awesome taste Its white flesh has a mild and delicate flavor that tastes great even when eaten raw as sashimi. But if raw fish isn’t your thing, you can also enjoy it grilled or braised for a sweet flavor and buttery-soft texture.

Let’s dive right in and learn more about the flavor of yellowtail and how it ranks against tuna!

What Does Yellowtail Taste Like?

Yellowtail fish tastes like tuna, especially when raw, but with distinctly clean flavor notes. You may also notice that its meat isn’t as soft as the latter. Nonetheless, it’s a popular choice of fish, enjoyed raw and cooked. This fish is best known for its fighting spirit, buttery-soft texture, and delicious taste!

Yellowtail is also known as the cousin of amberjack; it’s a mild-tasting, lean fish. The meat has a luscious feel and tastes mildly sweet with tangy notes. You may also notice a greasy flavor when you sear or grill the fish in oil that tastes exceptional. The umami and savory flavor mostly come from fat and histidine. Cooking the fillets in teriyaki or miso marinades can heighten the umami notes.

The delectable and sharp flavor makes it a mouthwatering choice at most sushi restaurants. Another reason why it’s a favorite among sushi and sashimi eaters is it has succulent yet firm flesh. Its creamy-smooth taste pairs well with citrus and spicy flavors, such as the Soy Citrus Yuzu Ponzu sauce! The sashimi usually includes thin slices of fish meat, shredded cucumber, daikon, and shiso leaf, a Japanese herb.

When eating yellowtail nigiri or sushi rolls, pair the fish with mild and refreshing vegetables, such as cucumber and avocado, for a classic flavor. Using exquisite sauces can also elevate the taste to a different level.

You may notice a tangy-sweet flavor from the fish when having sushi or sashimi. Overall, the silky mouthfeel and the mild flavor taste delicious! Yellowtail tastes exceptional when served raw as sashimi as it highlights the delicate and sweetish flavor notes. When serving the fish as sashimi, pair it with grated ginger and soy sauce for an elevated taste experience! There’s no going back when you have it for the first time! Yellowtail is now my favorite choice of fish for sashimi!

You can enjoy the yellowtail sushi in several ways and with various condiments. If you like adding a kick to your sushi, add a dash of hot sauce or soy sauce to the mix! You can also increase the heat with some wasabi. It’s a good idea to ask your chef about the best and most decadent way to consume the fish! Although the fish is one to please all, your experience may vary depending on personal taste preference and how the meal is prepared.

If you want the maximum delight, pair your fish with sake, beer, or green tea for a traditional experience. It’s the best way to expose your taste buds to a whole new range of flavors!

Texture-wise, the meat is firm and chewy with fine grains. However, when cooked using the correct technique, you’ll notice a creamy texture; that’s because the fish’s meat is rich in oil content. As a result, it develops a buttery taste with subtle hints of banana when cooked.

The oiliness makes it suitable for most cooking methods besides frying. Since it’s a light-tasting fish, it’s an excellent option for broiling, baking, and grilling. However, deep-frying the yellowtail is a big NO because the fish gets trapped in the oil.

When baking or grilling the steaks, it’s best to marinate the fillets days ahead so that the meat absorbs the flavors of spices and aromatics well. The versatility of the yellowtail is its most significant aspect!

Koreans enjoy yellowtail by serving the fish uncooked, thinly sliced into tiny, bite-sized pieces. The fish is wrapped in greens, preferably lettuce or aromatic sesame leaves. It’s topped with a chili-garlic that adds a spice kick to the otherwise sweet meat! The Japanese like to serve yellowtail on the boat as sashimi or nigiri. Another popular way is to serve the fish lightly cooked in a bowl of delectable soup!

In terms of appearance, it has a slender and elongated body with a thick, yellow tail. You’ll mostly find the fish to be light-colored, with the color ranging from an opaque pink to hues of brown and golden. When cooked, the meat turns white with fine grains. The color also varies depending on whether the fish is wild or farmed.

The wild and farmed yellowtail also varies in flavor. Since the Japanese Hamachi is farm-raised, it’s a fatty fish with a semi-soft texture and a subtle, slightly sour taste. It is so popular because it doesn’t have an intensely fishy taste like cod or bluefish. The wild yellowtail or kanburi is less fatty than its farm-raised counterpart. Kanburi has a rich, umami flavor with a firmer texture.

Most people like to compare the taste of yellowtail fish to familiar flavors, such as that of tuna or salmon. But, yellowtail has a unique taste; it’s also slightly firmer than tuna. At the same time, the flavor isn’t as mild as salmon. It’s neither fishy nor intensely salty like the other sea creatures. Although you may find a delicate tuna-like flavor, it has a more tangy and citrusy finish! If you like salmon for its smooth taste, we bet you’ll enjoy yellowtail even more! This fresh and flaky yellow cocktail flavor is comparable to Dogtooth Tuna, Opah, and Mutton Snapper.

In a nutshell, one of the most widely available and popular fish is the yellowtail. Also known as the Japanese Hamachi, the fish is a rich-flavored and meaty sea creature with flavor notes similar to swordfish and tuna. Its meat tastes luscious and buttery with a delectable bold flavor that has hints of tangy notes. Although it doesn’t have a bold flavor, it’s still a delicious option. There are several recipes you can try to yield an impressive dish that can even appeal to the palate of people that hate eating fish! Our favorite is the grilled yellowtail served with lemon caper cream or teriyaki sauce and some fresh mango salsa!

It’s entirely up to you how you serve this sea creature. With so much versatility and combinations, the sky’s the limit in how you wish to serve it. Each fish has its distinct flavor; therefore, it’s crucial to understand the flavor profile before deciding how to prepare it. You can also pair yellowtail with other fish, especially the mackerel, tuna, and salmon when catering to die-hard seafood lovers!

Is Yellowtail Supposed To Taste Fishy?

Yellowtail is popular for nigiri because of its mild and subtle flavor. It’s not fishy at all like salmon and other varieties of fish. Instead, the taste is best described as delicate, soft, and savory.

The flavor is slightly similar to tuna because of the salty and light notes. However, the taste is cleaner and sweeter than the other varieties of tuna!

The yellowtail may have an intensely fishy flavor in the darker-colored parts. So, it’s a good idea to check the color to identify the intensity of the flavor. If you don’t like an intensely fishy taste, ask for the light-colored parts in your sushi or sashimi!

You may want to note that an intensely fishy aroma is not characteristic of a yellowtail. Instead, it may indicate that you have the wrong type of fish or that the meat may have gone bad. 

Is Yellowtail Buttery?

The yellowtail’s high oil content gives its flesh a buttery and flaky texture. It’s similar to toro with its smooth flesh and smoky taste.

The fat content may vary among fish, depending on whether the yellowtail is wild or farmed. You can easily tell from the color. Generally, the flesh has a pink color, but the farm-raised variety is light-colored since it’s fattier.

 Cooked yellowtail meat is mostly firm with a delicate and sweetish flavor. We highly recommend baking or grilling the fillets to preserve the creamy texture. The yellowtail steaks have a buttery texture with a subtle flavor and hints of banana.

Is Yellowtail Better Than Tuna?

Yellowtail has a superior taste to white tuna because its full-on flavor notes leave behind a sour and citrusy aftertaste. Both varieties of fish are a popular part of Japanese cuisine, particularly sushi. They’re similar in their texture, as well, because they’re high in fat content and have oily flesh. That’s one reason most people consider yellowtail a tuna, but, in reality, it’s a variety of jackfish. On the other hand, the canned white tuna you see in every store is usually the albacore tuna.

Another reason why this confusion arises is that yellowtail sounds similar to yellowfin, a tuna species. But, in simple words, yellowtail refers to jackfish or the Japanese amberjack (Hamachi), which is a delicious and mild-tasting fish.

Flavor-wise, yellowtail has a rich and denser taste than white tuna; it’s also much safer to consume. 


Yellowtail is best known for its delicious flavor and delicate texture. But not only is it great-tasting, but it is also an excellent source of protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants, so it’s also good for your health! Some of its best-tasting parts include the collar, belly, and roe!

Since it has a high-fat content and is an oily fish, it makes an excellent choice for baking, grilling, broiling, and braising. However, it’s not the right choice for frying as it can trap the fish in its oils! Nevertheless, it’s a popular choice for sashimi as it tastes fantastic when served raw over ice.

This fish is a sure-shot way of pleasing the palate of even the pickiest of eaters!

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