Spice Rubbed Hiramasa

If you know anything about sushi, then you have probably heard of the name yellowtail, right?


What is Hiramasa you ask?

Hamachi, Yellowtail, Hiramasa, Kampachi,  Buri… are all members of the amberjack family.

Hiramasa’s name is given to differentiate sashimi grade amberjack from wild amberjack.

Like all living things, flavor and texture are tremendously different throughout its lifespan, due to size and age.

Hiramasa are typically small and range from 4-8 lbs.  They have a more tender and fatty flesh as opposed to their wild caught cousin that’s typically 3 years or older, and usually 3 feet plus in size.

There are multiple names for yellowtail throughout the world, but the one we are talking about is this short and fatty one found off the Baja coast.

Raised in nets, Hiramasa is more tender and fatty due to the fact that they don’t swim as long of a distance, and therefore don’t build tougher and higher sinew muscles.

This “go to” spice rubbed Hiramasa showcases the ingredients without overwhelming the fish.

Spice rubbed Hiramasa final plating
catalina offshore products

Spice Rubbed Hiramasa | Step 1: Infuse the Tomatoes

It’s very important to get firm Heirloom cherry tomatoes for frying.

Baby Heirloom Tomatoes

Preheat the Breville smart fryer to 350°F and set up a bowl of ice water for shocking the tomatoes to stop the cooking process.

Meanwhile… while oil is getting hot, bring the sugar and water to a boil and pull from the heat. Add the Thai basil, cover with plastic wrap, and cool to room temperature.

Thai basil syrup

Now your oil is ready for frying, drop in ½ the tomatoes and fry. Be careful as they will start releasing their water and spitting at you, so have the cover to the fryer handy.  Fry for roughly 30 seconds to 1 minute just until the skin separates from the flesh.  Immediately add directly into the ice bath. Repeat the same process for the second pint of tomatoes.

Removing tomato skins

Once tomatoes are fully cooled, peel skins and add to the room temperature basil syrup, and refrigerate overnight if possible.

peeling baby heirloom tomatoes

peeled baby heirloom tomatoes

Baby heirloom tomatoes in Thai basil syrup

Infused Tomatoes:

2 ½ cups sugar

2 ½ cups mineral water

1 bunch thai basil

Note: Do not strain the basil, it is better if the tomatoes are done 1 day in advance to fully infuse.

Spice Rubbed Hiramasa | Step 2:  Break Down the Hiramasa

If you are not comfortable butchering the whole fish, then ask your fish butcher to filet it for you into loins. You can then rub it with spices and slice it yourself.

If you are breaking down the yellowtail, then refer to the photos below.

Lift the pectoral fin towards you and make an incision around the collar to the top on the head on both sides of the fish.

hiramasa pectoral fin


Run your knife down the spine of the fish to the tail.

hiramasa breakdown

hiramasa breakdown 2

Separate the side of Hiramasa.  Remove the skin, bones, and blood line.

hiramasa side

Remove the head and cut the collar in half for another use.

hiramasa collar

Wrap in pichitto paper and store in refrigerator for later use.

hiramasa loin

Note: Remember to save the skin and a few slices for your best friend (I’m talking about my dog Lennox pictured above)…its good for their coat.

Spice Rubbed Hiramasa | Step 3: Make the Whipped Avocado

Using a Breville food processor, combine the lime juice, avocado, and puree to a smooth consistency while drizzling in the olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper

avocado and Breville sous chef food processor

Place into a piping bag, and chill.

whipped avocado

Whipped Avocado:

4 avocados

juice of 3 limes

1 bunch cilantro

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Spice Rubbed Hiramasa | Step 4: Make the Radish Butter

With a paring knife, start by trimming off all of the greens from the breakfast radishes while reserving ½ inch of the green stem attached to each radish. (We do this so it still resembles a radish)

Save the green radish tops for the butter.

Shave the larger breakfast radishes thinly on a mandolin and store in ice water for plating.

To start the butter, add the green radish tops, picked parsley leaves to a food processor and whip till smooth and vibrant green. Use a spatula to clean the sides of the food processor as you go for an even chop.

Once all of the greens are chopped well, add the room temperature butter and whip till fully incorporated.

Push the butter through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl using a rubber spatula, and save for coating the baby radish.

Radish Butter:

½ lb. unsalted butter

2 cups radish tops

1 bunch italian parsley (leaves only)

diamond kosher salt to taste

Spice Rubbed Hiramasa | Step 5: Butter the Baby Radishes

Clean the hairy fibers around the base of the greens stems where it meets the radish, and trim the bottom portion of the radish base so it can sit standing up.  You may have to remove a few green leaves in order for it to stand up straight.

Set up another ice bath for the baby radishes and a double boiler for the butter.

Slowly melt the butter and continually whisk so it doesn’t separate.  Pull from the heat when it has a constancy of yogurt and is warm to the touch.

radish butter

While working quickly, dunk the turnip in the butter while using the greens as a handle. The butter should almost come up to the green stem, but you should leave some red bulb of the radish so your guest can distinguish what they are eating.

buttered baby radish

Once buttered…use your finger to wipe the butter off the flat bottom of the radish that you trimmed earlier on so that the radishes can be plated standing straight up.  Then immediately place in the ice water for them to harden.

buttered baby radish in ice water

Note: you will probably need to place the butter on the double boiler back and forth for the correct consistency.  If the butter gets too warm simply place over the ice bath until it hardens, and then start the process over.

Once all radishes are buttered, line a small sheet tray with wet paper towels and lay the radihses flat on their side.  Cover with a wet paper towel until ready to plate.

buttered radish storage

Spice Rubbed Hiramasa | Step 6: Make The Black Garlic Emulsion

In a blender add the mustard, vinegar, cilantro leaves, honey, shallot, and white soy.  Blend on medium speed until smooth. With the motor still running, drizzle in the grapeseed oil slowly until thick and emulsified. Then add to a squeeze bottle for plating.

black garlic emulsion

Black Garlic Emulsion:

½ tbs. smooth dijon mustard

½ cup of rice vinegar

1 small shallot

1 bunch cilantro (leaves only)

1 tbs. honey

1 cup grapeseed oil

3 tsp. white soy

15 ea. black garlic cloves

Note: The white Soy in this recipe makes all the difference compared to the other stuff. We usually recommend substitutions, but in this case… white is the way to go. You can find this quality white soy here, as we will be featuring this brand in next week’s blog post, about Chef’s Pantry Essentials.

Spice Rubbed Hiramasa | Step 7: Make The Rub

Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix until fully incorporated.

Spice Rub:

7 tbs. tomato powder

1 tsp. harissa powder

1 ½ tsp. cumin powder

½ tsp. espelette pepper

1 tsp. curry powder

1 ½ tsp. diamond kosher salt

sprinkling Hiramasa with the spice rub

Spice Rubbed Hiramasa | Step 8: Slice and Plate

Lay the Hiramasa on a clean baking sheet and sprinkle the loin liberally with the spice rub.

When ready to plate, slice the whole loin thinly at an angle with a very sharp knife and strain the tomatoes from the liquid.

On a large serving dish, begin to plate by piping several inches of the whipped avocado from left to right.  With a small metal spatula, flatten the whipped avocado and smear it on the flat dish.  Arrange the infused tomatoes and the thin slices of Hiramasa “naturally” on the plate.

Sauce the plate with the black garlic emulsion, then dress the plate with the buttered radish, shaved breakfast radish, lime zest, basil, and flowers.


We like to pair this crudo with a rich and full bodied Chardonnay from Washington.  Look for wines from a cooler region which are typically higher in tartaric and malic acid.  This acidity will cut through the fattiness of the fish and the buttered turnips with perfect balance.

Key Points to Slicing and Storing Fish

Not only will a sharp knife make your life easier…it’s a hell of a lot safer.

Most mistakes with cutting yourself come from having a dull knife that won’t slice through the fish.

You use a lot more pressure trying to cut through the meat and have less control, therefor the knife has a tendency to slip and cut yourself.  Having a sharp and long knife to cleanly cut through the meat of the fish is more precise and requires less pressure.  A sharp knife should cut through a loin of Hiramasa like butter.

Always use a long drawing motion to cut even slices. Using a sawing motion will tear the flesh and leave it looking weird.

Another key point is to use a nice and even flat cutting board with a nonslip mat underneath. I like to use a hi-soft cutting boards which you can find on our epic tools page.  If the board is moving around there is a higher risk of making mistakes.

Always wear latex gloves when cutting fish.  Your hands are full of bacteria and the fish will have a longer shelf life if treated correctly.

Last but not least, make sure to use pichitto paper.  This stuff is amazing and your fish will last a lot longer if wrapped in this stuff.

If you have to store the whole fish overnight, then make sure you pack it in crushed ice in the way the fish would swim naturally.  This protects the texture of the fish and allows any cavity fluid to drain.  Use a perforated drain pan and a container underneath to catch excess water and fluid.


The key to this dish is all about finding the best fish possible.  While the other techniques are important, if the fish is no good…the dish will be no good.

If you can’t find good Hiramasa then you can substitute with another fish that’s high in good fat… like yellowfin tuna, or salmon.

Note that this recipe is more of a blueprint on what to do, and should be treated as such. Substituting ingredients is totally ok as long as you remember that the main star is the fish, and to never compromise on freshness.

We try to buy whole fish as much as possible here at EFB because we have more control over butchering, portioning, and storing fish correctly.

If you don’t want to break down the fish, then make sure you go to a trusted fish monger when selecting the Hiramasa.  Catalina Offshore Products here in San Diego is our trusted supplier.  Their customer service and team of knowledgeable professionals are a cut above the rest.

The fish should be very firm and have a vibrant pink color.  Ask your butcher to smell the fish, as there should be no odor whatsoever.

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Don’t forget to stop by next week as we will be giving tips on chef pantry essentials.

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