Friday, March 2, 2012

Tuna Time!

Mmmmm...Scombidae. Most of the the "family" tastes good. But we're talking! Scombidae Thunnus in plain English means "tuna". Try it seared or grilled. Need cheap and easy? Straight out of a can, mix the "chicken of the sea" with mayo and slap it between slices of fresh bread. But if you can get the right quality, cut and freshness; serve tuna simply. And serve it raw.

Sanbiki's Big Eye (red) Tuna Sashimi is sustainably sourced

In Japan that means sashimi or sushi. Sashimi=slices of raw fish by itself, while sushi involves seasoned sushi rice. Don't soak it in soy! A splash will do, with a teeny bit of wasabi or citrus to let the fresh flavours shine through. Tuna rolls are traditionally called "Tekka Maki". They are named for the gambling dens (Tekka) where they first gained popularity. Rumour has it gamblers liked the fact that the seaweed wrapped on the outside of the sushi roll stopped rice from sticking to their fingers. The games could continue while they ate!

Sanbiki's Tuna Roll uses BC Albacore (white) Tuna

If price is not a consideration, Bluefin tuna is the first choice for a Japanese Sushi Chef. The red meat is tender and the fatty belly (toro) is melt in your mouth delicious. Toro is divided into different "grades" depending on how much fat is present and how well-marbled the meat is.

Earler this year a single bluefin tuna fetched a record-breaking $736, 000. The number of large Bluefin tuna left has dwindled and scarcity has driven prices sky high. Many Bluefin populations are considered to be endangered. Sadly, this does not seem to be slowing demand. Mr Kimura, who owns a chain of sushi restaurants in Japan, poses below with his $736, 000 fish. That works out to roughly $90/piece for nigiri sushi.

Fortunately, there are sustainable options when it comes to sushi quality tuna. The seas off the coast of our beautiful B.C. support a healthy population of Albacore tuna. The fishery is well managed and supports many coastal communities. Albacore tuna is a white tuna with a mild flavour and soft texture. They can grow very large, but in BC they are usually caught under the age of five. There are concerns over mercury and other contaminant levels in large fish such as tuna. Catching them earlier means less toxins have bioaccumulated in their flesh. But they are still rich in omega-3 fats (the good kind!)

Chef Hiro cuts Albacore at Sanbiki

Sanbiki buys the quartered tuna and our Chefs cut and trim the fish themselves. We sell precut tuna and salmon frozen next door at Mori Mori for making sushi at home. But we like to keep the quality as high as possible in the restaurant.

The fins and skin are removed and then the loin roughly cut. It is trimmed to order for sashimi and sushi orders.

Red tuna lovers need not go without. Many Big Eye and Ahi tuna fisheries are well managed and sustainable. There are now several excellent "sustainable seafood guides" which can be downloaded for free on the internet. Check the Vancouver Aquarium's website for Oceanwise guides that will help you identify the best seafood choices for the oceans. And look for the Oceanwise (fishhead) logo on restaurant menus. The program has recently gone nationwide with over 3000 partner restaurants and groceries. And Sanbiki was the first Japanese restaurant in Canada to join!

More soon!

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