Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bluefin Tuna cutting demo at Isetan

C says:

We headed over to Isetan on Sunday after receiving their newsletter promoting a Bluefin Tuna cutting demonstration. Expecting a rather simple exhibit of a sushi chef slicing up fillets of tuna for sashimi or sushi, imagine my pleasant surprise when I got there and saw the entire tuna (gutted and gilled, of course) waiting to be filleted and portioned. We got there about 15 minutes early so I managed to snag a choice spot right in front (apart from annoying little kids who kept squeezing in front of me).

This particular tuna is from the Okinawa Sea, weighing in at a massive 61 kg and probably just over a metre in length. The fish was airflown, and was so fresh that there was absolutely no fishy smell at all – nothing like the wet market on a Sunday morning. They also specially brought in a Japanese sushi chef, who came with his arsenal of knives. His serrated knive with evil-looking teeth slicing through the fish head was impressive yet slightly frightening, and the way his chef’s knife slid through the thick tuna fillets like butter was truly a sight to behold.

What also threw me for a loop was the almost crazed fervour with which some members of the audience were clamouring to buy various parts of the fish. The head ($50) and each side of the collar ($60 each) had already been pre-booked, and an ugly scene almost ensued when someone had been waiting to buy the meat scraped from the bones, only to find that about 500g had been promised to another customer. At approximately $15 for 100g, these ‘scraps’ don’t exactly come cheap either. But what really got to me was the fairly young and insipid-looking guy who immediately snagged a 382 g portion of Otoro – the prized fatty tuna belly – the minute it was offered, at a whopping $152.

For me, it was just a rare opportunity to be up close and personal with a huge-ass bluefin tuna, and to watch a master at work methodically breaking it down, and seeing exactly what it takes to bring quality tuna to your plate. I took a load of photos but won’t bore everyone with all of them, so here are selected scenes from a very enjoyable half hour today.

A says:

The reason I don’t scuba dive is because I’m afraid of big fish. In fact, I find any animal larger than a fully grown man scary. Luckily, this fish was still smaller than me. And dead.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Japanese are still butchering bluefin tunas? *sigh* One day, there won't be any left.

Eat yellowfin tuna!