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What Is Maguro? The Complete Lowdown Here!

Maria Foster
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by Maria Foster

When it comes to worldwide cuisine, there are some terms that many of us are unfamiliar with.

What Is Maguro The Complete Lowdown Here!

We all know what burgers, fries, and pizzas are, but you probably wouldn’t recognize their names in other languages. 

Take the term “maguro” for instance. Ring any bells? Well, if you don’t speak any Japanese or rarely eat fish or sushi, we’re not surprised.

There’s your first clue – something to do with fish or sushi. We’ll give you another clue – it’s the Japanese word for the most consumed fish in the world.

That’s right! Maguro is the Japanese word for tuna. Pronounced “ma –goo- rhoh,” this is highly sought after in the sashimi world.

Unlike cans of tuna you may find in your grocery store, maguro is more of a delicacy, served in three main grades. 

Want to know more about maguro? You’re in the right place as we have the complete lowdown on what maguro is exactly and how it is served in various dishes.

Let’s find out more together!

Maguro Explained

Maguro, a culinary delight cherished by sushi aficionados worldwide.

Referring to the saltwater fish renowned for its tender texture and mild taste, maguro is essentially tuna. 

Maguro’s oil content adds moisture, making it a favored choice for sushi, as well as many other global dishes.

Nonetheless, Maguro is prominently featured in Japanese cuisine, particularly in sushi preparations. 

While some establishments specifically associate Maguro with Bluefin tuna, a Pacific Ocean species, others use it as a general term encompassing different tuna species.

As a result, when ordering Maguro, you may encounter a variety of tuna types, adding to the culinary adventure and diverse flavors on offer.

Different Maguro Varieties

A maguro, or tuna fish, has a number of flanks, like the different cuts of a cow. Here’s the sashimi tuna anatomy:

  • Se-kami – this is the red and fatty flesh that comes from the upper back of a tuna fish.
  • Senaka – this is redder than se-kami and comes from the fish’s mid-back section.
  • Se-shimo – again, this flesh is mainly red, but also sports some white streaks that look incredible when served. This piece of tuna flesh also contains less fat, resulting in a more tender cut.
  • Hara-kami-ho-toro – extra-fatty, this part of the tuna is cut from the upper abdomen of the fish and has a lighter color with a soft, chewy texture.
  • Hara-naka-chu-toro – another piece of fatty flesh, this is cut from the mid-abdomen of the fish. 
  • Hara-shimo – the last portion of maguro contains a combination of muscle and fat, resulting in a less red color.

Overall, there are over a dozen species of tuna that can be consumed, with Bluefin tuna being the most popular.

Restaurants can also serve albacore or Yellowfin tuna, too, and, more often than not, restaurant owners can sample some species before choosing what is right for their establishment. 

The leaner meat from tuna is referred to as “akami,” which is most commonly served in restaurants when someone asks for maguro without specifying what they mean. 

The term “toro” refers to the fatty portions of the fish, cut from its center.

“Otoro” is the fattiest section of tuna, found on its underside.

When eaten, this part of the tuna tends to melt in the mouth and crumble, making it a favorite amongst many patrons.

Bear in mind, though, that when ordering this, it is usually highly expensive.  

Another term you may hear is “saku.” This simply refers to a full block cut into many pieces by the chef. These pieces are then used for sushi. 

How To Prepare And Cut Maguro

To savor the finest maguro, it is crucial to begin with freshly caught fish straight from the sea.

When transported to restaurants or dining establishments, there are logistics to consider.

The best option tends to be by air. This is the quickest route of transit, meaning the maguro will arrive in just a few hours and still be fresh.

Moreover, planes have large refrigerated sections where the tuna is stored in containers to keep the fish as fresh as possible.

These containers also protect the fish from getting damaged due to possible turbulence midair. 

Once you have maguro, you’re ready to prepare it.

Ideally, it should be served immediately after being cut. If not, the fish should be stored in the refrigerator until served. 

To cut maguro, palace it on a cutting board.

Using a large knife, cut the ventral and dorsal sections into four pieces. Lay out these pieces with the skin lying flat against the board.

Next, cut the maguro in a horizontal manner and fillet gradually and carefully with your knife.

When cutting, ensure the knife is moving away from you and your hand is clear of the blade at all times. 

After making horizontal cuts, proceed by slicing the fish into thin strips, which can then be cut into planks for sushi.

If you plan to serve the fish with rice, it is advisable to prepare the rice simultaneously while cutting the fish for a synchronized meal preparation.

Your maguro is now ready to be served and enjoyed! 

Different Types Of Sushi That Include Tuna

We mentioned sashimi earlier on. This is essentially thin slices of fish served with sushi.

What Is Maguro The Complete Lowdown Here! (1)

As for tuna sashimi, this can be served with salmon and other kinds of fish in sushi. 

The majority of sashimi examples are coupled with sushi rice, which itself is coupled with soy sauce.

Sashimi can be served over the rice, or the rice can be served separately to the side.

When the rice comes as a side dish, you can sample the textures and flavors of the maguro on its own. 

A type of sushi that implements maguro is donburi. This is made with fish and vegetables that are simmered together with soy sauce, broth, and rice wine.

The fish and veggies act as toppings on a plate of rice, with the fish typically being cut into slices before being cooked. 

Maguro goes very well with sushi rolls. You simply place the tuna inside the roll and surround it with rice. You then place nori around the outside of the roll to prevent it from falling apart.

This may be one of the more popular forms of sushi with maguro. 

Of course, personal taste preferences will dictate what you think goes best with maguro, but it is widely considered that avocado, cucumbers, and pickled veggies accompany the fish exceptionally.

You can also place various sauces of choice on top of the sushi, including sriracha and spicy mayo.

Is Maguro Safe To Eat Raw?

Maguro is indeed safe to consume raw in dishes like sushi and sashimi.

However, it is crucial to ensure that the fish is fresh, handled correctly, and sourced from reputable, reliable suppliers to minimize the risk of illnesses.

In Summary

Maguro is the Japanese term for tuna and is most often used in Japanese cuisine, particularly in sushi preparations.

We’d like to mention, however, that certain species of maguro, such as Bluefin tuna, face sustainability challenges due to overfishing.

Therefore, it is crucial to choose sustainably sourced tuna and support responsible fishing practices.

About Maria Foster
Maria Foster
Maria Foster is a mother of 3 and she and her husband of 23 years share their home with 2 faithful dogs. Besides being CEO of the household and active in her community, Maria is the lead contributor to Food Champs and loves to try new food ideas and kitchen accessories to make easier and more delicious meals.
Maria Foster
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