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Uku

(Gray Snapper)

I. Biological Description

Uku (Aprion virescens) is commonly known as a snapper or jobfish. Among the three most popular deepwater snapper species in Hawaii, uku occurs at the shallowest depths, usually no deeper than 60 fathoms.

Most of the uku catch is between 4 and 18 pounds round weight. Fishermen rarely catch uku less than 1-2 pounds or over 30 pounds.

II. Of Special Interest For Buying/Distributing

Uku: aka Snapper or JobfishAvailability And Seasonality: Although uku is caught year round in Hawaii, the greatest availability is during its spawning season (May-July).

Fishing Methods: Uku is harvested mostly with vertical hook-and-line gear, however it is the only snapper in Hawaii regularly caught near the surface with trolling lures. Commercial fishermen have also used special bottom longline rigs to capture uku.

Distribution: Fishermen sell uku through the fish auctions, through intermediary buyers on the major islands, and directly to retail fish markets and restaurants.

Substitution: The summer uku season is entirely out of phase with the winter peak for other deepwater snappers (opakapaka, onaga), offering numerous substitution opportunities.

III. Of Special Interest For Preparation/Quality Control

Uku filletOf Special Interest For Preparation/Quality Control Shelf Life And Quality Control: Most uku are harvested in the main Hawaiian Islands, hence, the catch is marketed while it is still very fresh. When properly cared for, uku has a long shelf life, comparable to that of opakapaka (see Table 3).

Product Forms And Yields: Virtually all of the uku catch is landed as whole, iced fish, so that buyers can assess fish quality by examining the clarity of the eyes and the color of the gills. Several processors fillet uku for up-scale restaurants. The yield of fillet from a whole fish is about 45% (see Table 5). Whole fish are sold for display.

IV. Of Special Interest To Consumers/Foodservice Personnel

Color, Taste, Texture: Like other snappers from Hawaii, uku has clear, pale pink flesh that is delicately flavored, moist, and firm. Some chefs say that uku is slightly stronger flavored than the very delicate opakapaka.

Preparations: As it is sometimes a substitute for opakapaka, uku is prepared in the same ways, including baking, broiling, sauteing and steaming.

Uku harvested during the summer spawning season is often rich in natural fat, a desirable attribute for sashimi.

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