Parts of Tuna
There are many varieties of tuna in sushi and sashimi. Each slice of tuna comes from parts of the body that has different taste and texture. Three well-known parts are akami (red meat), chutoro (medium fatty tuna), and otoro (fatty tuna).
Akami or red meat
Akami is the section around the spine and back of the tuna. It’s dark red and tender lean meat. Because tuna consists mostly of this meat, it’s the most common part sold as sushi and sashimi. If a restaurant does not specify the tuna part, it’s likely akami. You may request to try other parts.
Chutoro or medium fatty tuna
Chutoro is part of the tuna’s belly. It’s lighter in color, a light red or bright pink due to more fat content. Many consider this part the most delicious because it has the perfect amount of lean and fat. Tuna has less chutoro than akami. Hence, the price is higher than akami but still affordable compared to otoro.
Otoro or fatty tuna
Otoro is the fattiest part of tuna, found in the lower belly towards the head. The color is light pink with white lines of fat similar to beef. It’s juicy, oily, and fatty to the point of melting in your mouth. There is only a small amount of otoro in a tuna. Hence, it’s the most expensive. Tuna has many species: bluefin, yellowfin, bigeye, albacore, and skipjack. High-quality otoro usually comes from bluefin tuna.
Although otoro is rare and delicious, the taste may be too oily. Some chefs prefer to aburi or lightly grill the outside to enhance its flavors.
Nowadays, the fatty parts of tuna are the most desired and expensive. However, this wasn’t the case long ago. Before the introduction of refrigeration, the fatty parts expired quickly and were discarded or fed to cats.