Red Snapper (Tai)

Centroberyx affinis

Also see: Red Snapper in Sushi Menu

The red snapper has been a symbol of good luck in Japan for its beautiful colors. It is also dubbed as the “King of fishes” in Japan and considered a luxury fish. The origin of the name is unknown, however ancient ruins in Japan have records of calling the red snapper tahi, which eventually became Tai. Tai actually refers to snapper in general. Red snapper is called ma dai or “true snapper” and there are other related species such as kuro dai (black Snapper), ishi dai (rock snapper), and ama dai (sweet snapper), just to name a few, but all are considered inferior to the red snapper.

Red snapper is best during the spring, when they are ready to breed and the male red snapper is considered better. After April, they loose a lot of fat content and they are not favored for sushi or sashimi. Some red snapper caught in the Naruto strait (central Japan) have bumps on their rear spine, which result from fighting rigorous tides. These red snappers are rare, and their flesh have the best texture. These red snappers which are nicknamed kobu dai (bump snapper) have very well developed muscles, and if caught during the spring season, the extra fat content makes them a delicacy.