Category: Shiromi (white fish). Season: winter to spring.
There are over ten different types of tai found in Japanese waters, but madai is the varietal preferred for sushi. Because of this, tai and madai will often be used interchangeably to describe the fish in a sushiya.
When tai is young it is called kasugo, and is considered a silver fish (hikarimono). As the sea bream matures and reaches three or more pounds the flesh lightens in color, firms up in texture, and a rich, sweet flavor emerges.
Tai season begins in the winter time, but doesn't reach its peak until the first week of April. The fish is then called sakura-dai (cherry blossom sea bream) and fetches high prices at market.
The fish is usually served raw but can also be served aburi (with the skin slightly seared) or using the kawashimozukuri method of splashing the skin with boiling water to tenderize it, then quickly chilling it with ice.