Righteye Flounder [Karei]


Japanese Name and Pronunciation:

karei in Japanese


Karei, also known as righteye flounder, is a highly prized fish in Japanese cuisine. It is renowned for its delicate flavor, tender texture, and versatility in various cooking preparations.

There are approximately 40 species of Karei that can be found in the waters near Japan, and almost all of them are edible and widely distributed for consumption.

Karei and Hirame (largetooth flounder) are often confused due to their similar appearance, but their taste and texture are completely different, making it necessary to distinguish between the two. Since it is not possible to determine them based solely on their eye placement, it is best to observe their mouths for identification. Hirame, being a predator of small fish, has a large mouth with sharp teeth. In contrast, Karei has a smaller mouth and smaller teeth as it feeds on worms and other small creatures.

The peak season for Karei refers to the period when the fish, particularly those carrying eggs before spawning, is caught. The timing varies depending on the species of Karei, so there is almost always some type of Karei in season throughout the year. For example, Meitagarei and Kurogashiragarei are in season from spring to summer. Ishigarei, Magarei, and Yanagimushigarei, on the other hand, are in season from autumn to winter.

Karei can be enjoyed in various ways in Japanese cuisine.

The most popular way to enjoy Karei is through simmered dishes. Due to its mild and delicate flavor, Karei pairs well with bold seasonings.

Additionally, Karei is delicious when prepared as Karaage, a Japanese-style fried dish. The thin skin becomes crispy, while the flesh remains tender. The bones of Karei are also soft, allowing them to be consumed along with the meat when properly fried.

Although Karei is not commonly sold as sashimi-grade fish, it can still be enjoyed as sashimi, showcasing its delicious taste. Other common preparations include salt-grilling and meunière-style cooking.

Furthermore, the part near the dorsal and tail fins of Karei and Hirame, known as Engawa, has become a popular sushi topping. In general, inexpensive and widely available Engawa from Karei is commonly used in conveyor belt sushi (kaiten-zushi) establishments, while high-end sushi restaurants tend to use Engawa from Hirame.

The delicate flavor and tender texture of Karei make it a beloved ingredient in Japanese cuisine.

Flounder Fin Sushi [Engawa]
Flounder Fin Sushi [Engawa]