Deep Dive FAQ: Kanpachi/Kampachi


What kind of fish is Hawaiian kanpachi?

Also known as almaco jack (Seriola rivoliana), Hawaiian kanpachi/kampachi is prized by chefs for both sushi and cuisine due to its extremely high fat content and rich white flesh. The fish is marked by a dark blue-green upper body with a lavender-tinted belly and elongated fins. When young, the distinctive bands centered over the eyes look similar to the Japanese symbol for the number 8 (“pachi” or “ハ”), giving the fish its name, “kan pachi” or “center eight”. Wild populations of almaco jack extend around the globe from California to Peru, the Azores to Spain, and Japan to the Philippines. It is commercially farmed in Hawaii and Mexico.

Are kanpachi and kampachi the same fish?

Typically, yes! The origin of the word "kanpachi" is Japanese, but saying it out loud as an anglophone very much sounds like "kampachi", so over time both terms became accepted interchangeably as almaco jack (Seriola rivoliana).  Hawaiian kanpachi will always refer to Seriola rivoliana, but be aware that every so often kanpachi is apparently also sometimes used to refer to the greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili), technically a different species of jack.  Note these are different species than Japanese amberjack/yellowtail/hamachi/buri.


Is kanpachi/kampachi and hamachi the same fish?

Technically, no! There are many species of Seriola in the jack family (Carangidae). Let's break it down: Sometimes kanpachi refers generally to the greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili) but Hawaiian kanpachi/kampachi/almaco jack will always be Seriola rivoliana, and is considered to be firmer and more mild in flavor than hamachi.
In sushi terms, hamachi is the younger juvenile version and buri is the older more mature version of Japanese amberjack or yellowtail, which is either Seriola quinqueradiata (most commonly farmed in Japan) or its Southern Ocean brother Seriola lalandi. Yellowtail is a completely different fish than kanpachi that tends to be softer in texture and most think it's got a smoother yet richer flavor.


Is kanpachi farmed or wild?

Most commercially available Hawaiian kanpachi/kampachi/almaco jack is farm raised. Wild populations exist, but much like commercial catfish, rainbow trout, cow, pig, or chicken, it’s mostly available to consumers as farm-raised. Commercial farming of kanpachi has recently been established in the deep waters off the islands of Hawaii as well as Baja and Pacific Mexico. Sourcing your kanpachi from companies like Blue Ocean Mariculture supports forward thinking strategies for the planet and represents today’s farmed fish.

Is kanpachi sustainable?

You decide!  Glimpse cutting edge offshore technology at work in the Velella research project off the Big Island in Hawaii. Monterey Bay Seafood Watch concludes that in the US, producers that use dry pellet feed will, on average, likely have a yellow score, or "Good Alternative". While they acknowledge the feed’s ingredients are sourced from sustainable fisheries, their main concern is the high amount of marine products required to produce almaco jack. However, we explore the issue further in our feed article, and interviewed the same research scientist Dr. Neil Sims on his work developing protein alternatives. Net pens in Mexico also rated as a "Good Alternative" as of January 2020. The industry hasn’t reported the use of antibiotics, but chemicals are regularly used to control parasites though the substances are a low risk to the environment. Sourcing US kanpachi from companies like this Blue Ocean Mariculture distributor supports forward thinking strategies for the planet and represents today’s farmed fish.

How do you prepare kanpachi sushi or crudo?

Described as clean, pure, fresh, and subtle, Hawaiian Kanpachi is extremely versatile on the grill or sashimi-sliced with love and precision. Check out our simple recipe for Sunny Citrus Kanpachi Crudo and brush up on how to prepare raw fish at home.