On the dock in Mykonos, I see a fisherman with a gorgeous red snapper and I ask, “for sale”, and he shakes his head signalling no. I know him and he promises “next time” waving his eyebrows, as the fish is spoken for. In the meantime, I signal thumbs up, and he warns me that the fish needs 10+ days to soften and be edible. I cringe inside because he has no idea about how to treat fish post catch, and naturally a fish toughens to state of rigormortis.
Twenty five years ago I helped a Japanese get a permit to stay in eastern Canada and live on a fishing vessel. He places a single needles into the brain of fish, a closely guarded secret. The technique is called kaimin katsugyo which translates “live fish sleeping soundly” in order that a live fish sleeps soundly without causing any damages to the flesh.
The needling of fish maintains freshness as the fish does not deplete its oxygen, tricked into a relaxed state. The fish relaxes in transit and its flesh behaves as if it were still alive. In essence, the fish is in a twilight state between life and death, its normal processes of cellular decomposition arrested by those strategic needle pricks.