The largehead hairtail (also beltfish), Trichiurus lepturus, is a member of the cutlassfish family, Trichiuridae. It is a long, slender fish found throughout the tropical and temperate waters of the world. The Atlantic and Pacific populations are also known as Atlantic cutlassfish and Pacific cutlassfish, respectively.
Largehead hairtails can grow to over 2 m in length; the largest recorded weight is 5 kg and the oldest recorded age is 15 years. They live in shallow coastal waters, rising to eat planktonic crustaceans during the day and returning to the sea bed at night.
Fisheries and usage
Largehead hairtail is a major commercial species. With reported landings of more 1.3 mill. tonnes in 2009, it was the 6th most important capture fish species. By far the largest catches were reported by China (1.2 mill. t.) from the NW Pacific (FAO Fishing Area 61); other countries reporting significant catches were South Korea, Japan, and Pakistan.
In Korea, the largehead hairtail is called "갈치 (Kalchi):sword fish",in which "갈(Kal)" means sword and "치(chi)" means fish, and is popular for frying or grilling. In Japan, where it is known as tachiuo (lit. "sword-fish"), they are fished for food and eaten grilled or raw, as sashimi. They are also called "sword-fish" in Portugal and Brazil (peixe-espada), where they are eaten grilled or fried. Its flesh is firm yet tender when cooked, with a moderate level of "fishiness" to the smell and a low level of oiliness. The largehead hairtail is also notable for being fairly easy to debone.
- FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) (2011). Yearbook of fishery and aquaculture statistics 2009. Capture production. Rome: FAO. p. 27, 202-203.