Okhotsk atka mackerel, or hokke in Japanese, are caught in all of the waters off Hokkaido. Hokke no hiraki, in which the fish is cut lengthwise, the innards removed and opened for drying, is one of the staples for any Hokkaido resident. The hokke’s high fat content delivers a delicious juiciness that pairs perfectively with white rice or alcohol. Okhotsk atka mackerel are also deep fried or used in simmered dishes when raw, and it can also be eaten as sushi when fresh.
Hokke are known by different names at different stages of their growth. For example, juvenile fish are called aobokke because of their blue colored body. Once the fish reaches around 20cm in length at less than one year of age it is called rousokubokke. Once it matures and heads to the coastline in search of food it is called harubokke. Later, hokke that live along offshore rocky reefs are called nebokke.
■Caught mainly in Northern Hokkaido and the Sea of Japan, but also the Rausu area as well
Hokke are caught in every corner of Hokkaido, but the catch from the Okhotsk Sea and Sea of Japan account for more than 90%.
Wakkanai City, Otaru City, Monbetsu City, Rebun Town, Abashiri City, Yubetsu Town, Rausu Town, Suttsu Town, Shimamaki Town, Kitami City, Shari Town, Rishiri Town and Rishiri Fuji Town
Hokke are believed to be difficult to distribute to many markets as a fresh fish because they lose their freshness quite quickly. However, the fisheries cooperative of Hakodate City has shortened the time the fish spend in the net and successfully ensured freshness by catching hokke straight from the net and putting them on ice immediately. Therefore, they can be shipped fresh to the Kanto and Kansai regions, where they are prepared and eaten as sashimi and sushi.
Hokke are caught throughout the year in every part of Hokkaido.