Deliciously sweet and juicy Hamachi Kama served with a side of tangy ponzu sauce. Two different cooking methods, both produce amazing results.
What is Hamachi Kama?
Hamachi kama is the collar portion of the yellowtail fish. Often confused with yellowfin tuna, yellowtail is in fact part of the jack family of fish, called Japanese amberjack. If you've had cooked hamachi fish, you'll know that the fish is firm and meaty. You would never guess that hamachi collar comes from the same fish.
The yellowtail collar is the area between the gills and the pectoral fins. This portion is quite possibly the most rich and succulent part of this fish and any fish. From the appearance of fish collars, it may seem like there isn't much there, but there is a surprising amount of meat in this area.
Hamachi collar is incredibly juicy, flaky, tender and sweet. The high-fat content in the collar portion of Hamachi is credited for its distinguished texture and flavor that sets it apart from the rest of the fish.
Is it Easy to Make Hamachi Kama at Home?
This Hamachi Kama recipe is as easy and fool-proof as it gets. The flesh of fish collars is encased in bones and cartilage, which means it can handle a little overcooking without drying out. Add in the fact that this area is rather fatty, it provides even more flexibility with cook time. No more dry fish! In fact, it is so easy to cook at home, you'll second guess ever ordering it at a restaurant again.
There are two different cooking methods I view as the easiest to achieve in a home kitchen - using an air fryer or a skillet. One method has a slight advantage over the other. Continue reading for my preferred cooking method.
How to Cook Yellowtail Collar
No matter which cooking method you use, preparing yellowtail kama are the same. If they are frozen, defrost them in the fridge overnight or in a water bath until they are fully defrosted. Rinse each piece and pat dry with a paper towel. Lightly season both sides with salt.
A) Air Fryer Method
Place hamachi collars in a single layer in the air fryer, skin side up. Air fry at 400°F for 8 minutes. If your air fryer doesn’t go as high as 400°F, set it at maximum temperature and add a few minutes to the cook time. After 8 minutes, carefully flip each piece so that they are skin side down. Air fry for another 8 minutes. Your cook time may vary depending on your air fryer and the size of the yellowtail collars. Cut into the thickest part to check for doneness.
B) Pan Frying Method
Use any skillet that has a lid and heat the pan over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and swirl it around until the bottom is well coated. Allow the oil to heat up until it starts to smoke. Add the hamachi kama to the pan, skin side down in a single layer. Cover and turn the heat down to medium-low.
1) Allow it to cook covered for 8 minutes. Don’t open the lid during this time. There will be a lot of steam built up inside, which cooks the fish on all sides and keeps it moist.
2) When the 8 minutes are up, remove the lid, carefully flip each piece and put the lid back on. Allow it to cook for another 8 minutes, or until it is cooked through. Your cooking time may vary depending on the size of your yellowtail collars.
What is the Best Way to Cook Hamachi Kama?
Air frying and pan frying both produce great results. I pan fried hamachi kama for many years until I bought my first air fryer. On weekends, I would treat family and friends to grilled hamachi collar for a special gathering. No doubt grilled yellowtail collar has a special roasted flavor that can't be replicated. However, air frying has proven its superiority and is the only way I cook yellowtail collars. Aside from how effortless it is, air frying produces more browning. The surface and the skin are crispier, and the meat is juicier. An added bonus are crispy fins.
If you don’t own an air fryer, pan frying also gives you a great dish. A benefit of pan frying is that you can cook much larger batches, especially if you get a couple of large skillets cooking at one time. Can you tell which one of these hamachi kama was pan-fried in the image below? (Hint: It’s the one on the left.)
Notice how the yellowtail kama on the left is only browned on the parts that made contact with the skillet. The two on the right (which have been air fried) have even browning on all surfaces. It may be a small difference, but you can taste the difference.
- 3-5 yellowtail collars
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Prepare the hamachi kama by giving it a good rinse, then pat dry with a paper towel.
- Lightly salt both sides of the yellowtail collars.
Air Fryer Method
- Place the hamachi collars in the air fryer, skin side up. Set to 400°F (or as high as your air fryer will go) and air fry for 8 minutes.
- Flip each piece so that it is skin side down. Air fry for another 8 minutes at 400°F.
Pan Frying Method
- Heat a skillet over high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and swirl it around the pan until the bottom is well coated.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and carefully place each piece of hamachi collar in the pan, skin side down.
- Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to cook for 8 minutes.
- Carefully flip each piece of hamachi kama. Cover and allow it to cook for another 8 minutes.