Amberjack (Yellowtail Kingfish) is a bit of a generic name used for a number of different fish in the Jack family. In the US, Amberjack is generally the name for either the California Yellowtail which is wild caught off the California and Baja coast, or the Greater Amberjack which is wild caught off the US Atlantic coast and and southward to Brazil. However, Amberjack is also farmed in Japan and Australia, using 3 or 4 different species of the Jack family. Wild Amberjack have the tendency to have parasites. Hiramasa from Japan is also an Amberjack but does not have a parasite tendency.
Amberjack has pale pink flesh with firm, large flakes and a sweet flavor. Hiramasa is a sashimi grade farmed Amberjack which has a higher fat content, firmer texture and cleaner flavor than wild Yellowtail Kingfish (Amberjack).
Typical Cooking Methods
Yellowtail Kingfish, Yellowtail Amberjack, Yellowtail, Hamachi (sushi), Kanpachi (sushi), Hiramasa (sushi), California Yellowtail, King Amberjack, Japanese Amberjack, Buri, Racing Tuna, Kahala ‘opio (Hawaiian), Great Amberjack, Atlantic Amberjack.
Note about sushi: technically speaking, Hamachi is the Seriola quinqueradiata species, Kampachi is Seriola dumerili, and Hiramasa is Seriola lalandi. However, all three names are frequently used for Yellowtail irregardless of species.
Amberjack Tuna – this is a misnomer, perhaps as a marketing ploy. Amberjack is not a Tuna, although it has been marketed as Amberjack Tuna.
General Amberjack Description
Amberjacks are part of the Carangidae family which includes the Jacks and Pompanos. They are frequently called Yellowtail or Amberjack, which causes confusion as there are a number of species marketed by both names. Ultimately, you need to know the scientific name if you are seeking a specific Amberjack or Yellowtail.
Amberjack have elongated, moderately compressed bodies. They have a slender head longer than their body depth and have 31-34 dorsal fin rays. They are generally blue, blueish-green or purplish green above and silver-white below. Amberjacks can be distinguished by their yellow caudal fins. Depending upon species (and whether they are wild or farmed), they can weigh up to 140 pounds. Wild Amberjack have a tendency to have parasites.
Description (Seriola quinqueradiata)
other names: Japanese Yellowtail, Kingfish, Hamachi (see sushi note above)
This Amberjack is native to the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Hawaii and Baja California. For culinary purposes the most abundant form of the fish on the market is farmed with an average weight of 6 1/2 to 11 pounds.
California Yellowtail Description (Seriola lalandi, Seriola dorsalis)
other names: Amberjack, Yellowtail Jack, Coronadao, White Salmon, Forktail, Hiramasa (see sushi note above)
California Yellowtail are among the largest member of the Jack family and are found in the wild along the California coast and Baja California. The largest recorded fish weighed 92 lb, but average commercial catch is 20 – 30 lb.
This species of Amberjack is also farmed in Japan and Australia. Although there are sustainability issues with farmed Amberjack (see below), the meat of the farmed fish is generally considered to be a higher quality than the wild Amberjack.
Greater Amberjack Description (Seriola dumerili)
other names: Amberjack, Atlantic Amberjack, Yellowtail, Dorado, Madregal, Kampachi (see sushi note above)
In US waters, Greater Amberjack range the Western Atlantic from Nova Scotia to Brazil, including the Gulf of Mexico. However, they are also found in the subtropical regions of the Indo-West Pacific, Mediterranean Sea, and both the Eastern & Western Atlantic.
They are the largest, and among the fastest growing fish, of the Jack family. They can reach weights of up to about 142 pounds, but have an average weight of about 15 – 40 pounds. They have no scales.
Fresh seafood availability chart: green areas show peak availability, light green show limited availability, gray indicates not available fresh. Frozen available all year long.
California Amberjack Yield Percentage and Recovery
|Item||To Skin/On Fillets||To Skin/Off Fillets||Notes|
|Whole Head/On gutted||63%||54%|
|Whole Head/Off gutted||74%||62%|
|Skin/On Fillets||—||84%||If you have yield info on this fish please comment below.|
Range & Habitat
Amberjack are found in subtropical regions around the globe including the Indo-West Pacific, Mediterranean Sea, and both the Eastern & Western Atlantic. Farmed Amberjack is rasied in Japan, Australia, and Mexico.
Typical Wholesale Products
H&G, Fillets, Loins
|Name||Alternate Names||Catch Method||CatchRegion||Seafood Watch||Ocean Wise||Sea Choice||Mercury Concerns?|
|Greater AmberjackSeriola dumerili||Yellowtail, Kampachi, Kingfish||Farmed||Australia, Japan||no|
|Greater AmberjackSeriola dumerili||Yellowtail, Kampachi||Wild, Handline||US South Atlantic||no|
|AmberjackSeriola quinqueradiata||Hamachi, Kingfish, Japanese Yellowtail||Farmed, Open-net Pen||Australia, Japan||no|
|AmberjackSeriola lalandi||Coronado, Yellowtail, Yellowtail Kingfish, Hiramasa||Farmed, Open-net Pen||Australia, Japan||no|
|AmberjackSeriola lalandi||California Amberjack, Coronado, Hiramasa, Yellowtail, Yellowtail Jack, Yellowtail Kingfish||Wild, Gillnet, Hook & Line||California||na||no|
|Disclaimer: The sustainability info above is accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, each program randomly updates their information without our knowledge. We therefore recommend that you verify the current accuracy of this information.|
|= Best Choice/Recommended = Good Alternative = Avoid/Not Recommended||Updated|
Farmed Amberjack from Japan & Australia have sustainability issues with feed and pollution, though Australia ranks better than Japan. Although wild caught Amberjack are in good supply and are reproducing at a sustainable level, they are down-graded on sustainability due to bycatch from Gillnets.
based upon a 6 oz (171 grams) raw edible serving.
Comments from before Site Migration