Aomori has long been one of the major producers of mackerel (saba) in Japan. The Hachinohe Maeoki Saba has received high remarks for its fatty flavorful flesh. Found in an ocean area with intense changes where the Oyashio, Kuroshio, and Tsugaru warm currents converge, the abundance of plankton attracts the fish to the area. Around September of every year, the ocean water temperature drops, and the fish fatten up quickly.
Mackerels caught off the Hachinohe coast can be as large as 600 grams (21oz) and reach a fat content of up to 30%. In comparison to typical mackerel which on average has a 12% fat content, mackerel of Hachinohe Maeoki are clearly exceptional.
The Hachinohe Makeoki Saba Brand Council examines and approves each mackerel that comes through Hachinohe port to ensure that the fish meet the conditions for selection. The fish must be caught in the seas surrounding Hachinohe during a specific period of the year, which is determined by annual trends based on the number of catches, fat content, and weight of the fish. A fat content of over 15% is a baseline requirement for the selection of Hachinohe Maeoki Saba.
Hachinohe Maeoki Saba that are especially large receives the name of “Silver Mackerel.”