Japanese cuisine is famous for having many fish dishes and is gaining popularity abroad. However, in the country fish is not consumed as much as it used to, due to its smell.
But some Japanese fish farmers are hoping to solve the scent image problem and to help increase the popularity of fish consumption by adding tangerine peel to fish feed to give the creatures a more pleasing aroma.
A Japanese fisheries ministry report, using figures from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, shows that Japanese individual consumption of seafood and fish products is still nearly three times the global average, but it is decreasing and has now fallen behind average consumption in Portugal and South Korea.
Japanese fish farmers say that customers simply turn their noses up at fish, according to the international press.
“An increasing number of women and children are staying away from fish because of the fishy smell,” said Fujio Miyamoto, executive director of Koshin Suisan, a seafood distributor based on the island of Shikoku in southwestern Japan. Koshin Suisan has developed a technique for giving fish a faint fruit aroma. Its mikan sodachi madai are red sea bream with a fragrant tinge of mikan tangerine.
“Women do not like it when their chopping boards get a lingering fishy smell,” Miyamoto said.
He is mixing powdered tangerine peel in fish feed, with the fruit peel being highly available in the island due to the fact that Ehime prefecture is Japan’s second largest producer of tangerines.
“I also wanted to make use of that tangerine peel because it was just being thrown away as garbage,” Miyamoto said, adding that the antioxidants in the fruit also help extend the shelf life of fresh fish.
The first sea bream smelling like tangerine was produced last year, in spring. The fish are sold online, at retail stores and served at restaurants. Miyamoto’s company also began producing tangerine-flavored yellowtail. The fish is sold two times more than regular yellowtail, according to a spokesman for Kura, one of the biggest operators of conveyor belt sushi restaurants in Japan, which owns 334 restaurants.