Pacific cod is a large white-fleshed fish that is caught in all of the waters off Hokkaido. It can grow up to one meter in length. Pacific cod is written by combining the Kanji characters for fish and snow together. As this name indicates, the season runs from December to the following March. Pacific cod that approach the coastline to spawn are caught. Freshness can easily be maintained because it is caught in the winter, so Pacific cod caught in Hokkaido have long been shipped to the Kanto and Kansai regions.
Pacific cod is used in a winter favorite hot pot called tarachiri and others. It is also used widely in other local specialties, including sanpei soup, seasoned with salt and grilled, deep fried, and freshly wrapped in konbu kelp. In addition, milt, called tachi in Japanese, offers high nutritional value along with a creamy rich taste. It considered a luxury ingredient used in soups, tempura, and miso soup. Pacific cod roe is called mako and used in simmered dishes and soy sauce pickling.
Pacific cod are caught the most in the waters off Kushiro, Nemuro and the Shiretoko Peninsula, while the Soya and Oshima areas also have large catches.
■ Map / Main municipalities with fishing grounds plotted on the map
Kushiro City, Nemuro City, Rausu Town, Rebun Town, Hakodate City, Abashiri City, Wakkanai City, Hiroo Town, Muroran City, Urakawa City
The ocean off the coast of Nemuro and surrounding the islands of the Northern Territories is cut off form the Oyashio Current by the Northern Territories making it easy for plankton to accumulate. This also makes it a prime fishing ground where many fish come to feed. Fishermen from Nemuro who fish here catch Pacific cod using longline fishing. Longline fishing involves a rope several kilometers in length with smaller, thinner ropes attached with hooks and bait. This results in less harm to the fish, which are caught in a condition that is nearly alive. Immediately after caught Pacific cod are drained of their blood, making it possible to retain freshness, juiciness and a springy texture.
Pacific cod is shipped throughout the year, but the height of the season is the spawning period between December and the following March.