While it is true, many signs are a tell-tale in a fish’s eye and one of the first places you see the damage made to a fish is when it the eye is cloudy.
The eyes are the window to the soul and this a particularly appropriate phrase when diagnosing a fishes freshness. The early changes in the outer body of a fish often show up better on the clear tissue of the fish’s eye. Knowing how these eye changes can be used to access the fish as a diagnostic tool.
But there are other important signals as well and in order for fish to remain fresh, it is important that the fish is treated with the utmost care after it’s caught. Fish need to breathe like humans and when they are yanked out of the water, or struggle in nets, they suffer and can choke to death, or their metabolism does not function correctly and the fish degrades. This is why the Japanese have concentrated on understanding the best needs to managing the process during and after fishing.
By using “chi-nuki” or strategic bloodletting is key to preserving fish’s flesh. It was created before refrigeration made it possible to transport freshly throughout Japan without spoilage. Blood decomposes faster than muscles or organs and can destroy meat prematurely, so incisions are made at the gills and tail of a brain-dead specimen while the fish’s still-beating heart pumps blood out of its body.
There’s “hiyashi-komi” or cooling fish in ice-water slurry to bring down its core temperature, and “nou-jime” or puncturing the head with a metal hook causing instantaneous brain death which keeps the rest of the fish’s organs functioning, as in kaimin katsugyo.
Traditional Eastern medicine, places needles into their catch at the exact points to make the fish relax and sleep. The technique is called kaimin katsugyo, that translates as “live fish sleeping soundly.”
It is all in the catch, kill and transit and knowing is what makes the difference.
Categories: Sushi Styles