When I asked a sushi chef and friend Mr. T about the quality right now he shrugged and said “Kawaiso” which translates as how sad. Luckily Atlantic bluefin tuna are getting a rest as sushi bars and high end counters are closed. The Covid has changed our food supply chains and when it comes to fresh fish and an abundance of it, watch out.
One of the oceans apex predators equipped with razor sharp teeth Tuna have a constant need for nourishment. And we humans have the same insatiable appetite.
One reason Tuna and humans appetites are so insatiable is we are both warm blooded. For tuna it means they must continually move to maintain a body temperature higher than that of the water around them.
Maguro (tuna) eat large amounts of protein rich sea life including mackerel, squid, Atlantic sea herring and crustaceans. It starts to make good sense why we adore sushi and especially tuna. These fish eat lots of protein, swim and never diet following schools of fish during different times of year and traveling globally to different waters.
Tuna travel to the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea, both are spawning grounds, and to the Gulf in mid-April through mid-June. During this time mature females release about thirty-million eggs each and the happens in the Mediterranean Sea and in the Eastern Atlantic between June and August.
Tuna spawn releasing eggs and makes sperm released into water will become fertilized and produce offspring. The process often in large quantities, and of course males simultaneously or sequentially release milt to fertilize the eggs. The very milt we eat in so many Japanese restaurants: https://mesubim.com/2016/01/14/milt-roe-shirako/
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna return to the waters they were born in to reproduce during these times so the waters are eventually teeming with huge fish ready for chefs itching for high-quality.
But remember “hon Maguro” is scarce and only a small percentage (1% or less) have access to the top quality hand-line caught tuna that is reeled in with strict precision and no mistakes. The likes of fatty trick-tuna so many savour the “fatty-ness” and some are even fooled by other related fish, thinking it is “hon maguro” tuna.
Perhaps thats why the experts enjoy the lean maguro, the Akami: https://mesubim.com/2016/06/11/akami-cut-video/ and beginners as I call most gaijin who thwart themselves into eating whatever they think is good.
The genus Thunnus is classified into two subgenera: Thunnus the bluefin group, and Neothunnus the yellowfin group and the distinctive difference is in the fattiness. Many are hooked on the fatty taste and cannot get enough. That’s why when you go to eat sushi it is often omakase, so a chef can budget
A tuna (also called tunny) is a saltwater fish that belongs to the tribe Thunnini, a subgrouping of the Scombridae (mackerel) family. The Thunnini comprise 15 species across five genera, the sizes of which vary greatly, ranging from the bullet tuna (max. length: 50 cm (1.6 ft), weight: 1.8 kg (4 lb)) up to the Atlantic bluefin tuna (max. length: 4.6 m (15 ft), weight: 684 kg (1,508 lb)). The bluefin averages 2 m (6.6 ft), and is believed to live up to 50 years.
Unlike the “super frozen tuna,” fish that is frozen at minus 60ºC degrees as soon as it’s caught. This way of processing maguro, which is common is one of the best ways to preserve the fish fresher than when eaten right after it’s been caught.
In Spain dozens of bluefin tuna at choppy oceans surface are thrashing wildly until, exhausted and asphyxiated and the fishermen hoist them onboard by the tail. This trap-fishing method, known as Almadraba in Spanish, is considered the oldest form of industrial fishing in the world, dating 3,000 years to the Phoenicians. Even if the tuna’s final struggle and killing with a knife can appear violent, the Almadraba has been praised as a sustainable way of fishing. While the boats and nets have been modernized, the method itself has remained largely the same over millenniums.
But despite this type of fishing methods, Japanese are meticoulius about capturing hon maguro or kuro maguro, black tuna in Japanese. Many tuna afficandos know Oma where some of the best fish are lined using fishing methods exclusive known as ippon zuri, single-hook hand-line.
Fishing in the Tsugaru Strait is dangerous due to a narrow passage that separates Japan’s main island of Honshu from its northern neighbouring island of Hokkaido, and links the Pacific Ocean with the Japan Sea.
Ippon zuri is on small boats of about 5-tons crewed by a fisherman using live bait on a single line fed out of a tub placed on the back deck. Bait fish include mackerel, yellowtail, squid, sardine all kept live in wells on board.
Trailing the bait and hook, a 180-kg monofilament line runs freely through white nylon gloves are reinforced with flexible plastic webbing. If the line zips through a fishermans fingers straighten out and the fist closes for a split second to set hook with a quick sharp backward jerking motion.
These fish are often big and uber quick but tire easily and after a while when the hand controls are sure the fish is well apprehended, the fisherman threads the line into an electrically powered reel, and the fish is slowly winched in.
The fish struggles but succumbs to the stronger powers, and sometimes an electrified metal ring is sued, sliding it down the line it shocks and stun the fish so the fish can be gaffed alongside the boat. The fish is lifted aboard with a small boom winch and handed with expertise and caution not to damage the fish, bruise it, make any gashes otherwise the fish and its price price will be negatively impacted.
Fishing tuna is complex and while Ippon Zuri fishery method is certainly popular but hand-line fishermen also engage in Janbo, a long pole, short set line fishing, using a set line of three buoys trailing one baited hook each, set over the water, and secured to underwater seamounts. This is usually done before and after the hand-line season, which runs from August to December. The season for both Janbo and Haenawa, or standard long-line fishing, runs from July to January.
But the difference between hand crafted fishing and industrial fishing starts to mark the trade of tuna as a very popular global food. The sustainability of smaller boats prevails but in the long run the massive demands for tuna lead way to Haenawa being used on large commercial vessels.
A longline fishing industry that uses floating longlines as fishing gear. The total length of the main rope is about 150km, and more than 3,000 branch ropes with baits and needles are attached to it. It takes 8 hours to lasso and 16 hours to fried lasso, and it is a life-threatening job with 20 or more crew members working in a day.
If you wonder why such warm-water fish as tuna appear in Northern Japan and even in winter, the answer is the ocean’s current. The Tsushima Current is a warm-surface ocean current, a northward-flowing branch of the Kuroshio (Japan) Current, which runs along the Japanese side of the Japan Sea and averages 24ºC. At the northern end of Honshu, the current divides, one branch continuing northward along the west coast of Hokkaido and flowing into the Sea of Okhotsk, while the other, called the Tsugaru Current brings its warm and relatively salty water into the Pacific Ocean through the Tsugaru Strait.