Story by Barbara & Manos Angelakis
Photos by Manos Angelakis

Big Tuna 2

The Big Tuna

How fortunate we are to live at a time and in a place where we are exposed  to just about all the glorious gastronomic delights of the world. When I was growing up, Italian and Chinese restaurants were considered exotic  but oh how things have changed... and for the better! Within a few blocks in any direction from our home, we have a choice of myriad ethnic  cuisines and while I still count Italian and Chinese as favorites, along with Thai, Indian and all Mediterranean style cooking traditions, top  of the list currently goes to Japan for its delectable raw fish sushi  and sashimi which I can’t seem to get enough of.

So imagine how delighted I was when we were invited by the Balfegó Group - a premier producer of quality tuna - to attend a Kaitai Show; a  spectacular exhibition of the butchering of a 550 pound Bluefin Tuna  removed from the sea less than 24 hours prior to appearing on the table  at La Nacional in New York City. A Kaitai demonstration is usually only attended by the cognoscente; i.e. Japanese chefs and restaurateurs or wholesale brokers of superior quality seafood. An entire fish is apportioned and every  part of the tuna is made use of, not only the loins and belly for  sushi/sashimi but other parts as well such as steaks and cutlets for  grilling, cooking or salt-curing.

Big Tuna Apportioning Start

This being our first Kaitai we were unsure if we would get the chance to  taste the results of the efforts of master tuna cutter, Nobuyuki Tajiri. Thankfully the gods of gluttony smiled upon us and we managed to ingest a goodly amount of the freshest, most succulent, well designed rolls  and sushi pieces, thanks to the talented chefs from ZUMA, a contemporary Japanese cuisine restaurant who took charge of the kitchen once the  demonstration part of the program was over.

Big Tuna Sushi Plate

There are many varieties of tuna but bluefin and yellowtail are considered  the premiere ones, used for sushi/sashimi in top-of-the-line restaurants in Japan, the United States and most of Western Europe. Bluefin is a  large fish that, when caught, can weigh as much as 450 to 750 lb. depending on their age.

Balfegó, is a family owned Spanish company, that has for 5 generations - a  period of over 100 years - operated out of a small fishing village south of Barcelona. Over the years they have perfected a farming method that provides fresh, healthy product to the market servicing the ever  growing demand for quality fish, farmed in a humane and sustainable  manner.

Bluefin is caught by the Balfegó fishing boats when the tuna returns from its  spawning grounds in the areas mostly around the Balearic Islands and the Western Mediterranean. Tuna stop feeding on the way to spawn, losing  much of their adult weight in the process, making it easier to capture  the large fish after spawning. Tuna lay around 20 million eggs on the  surface of the water of which barely one out of a million survive. Fish are targeted for capture after they reach 100 lbs and are around 14  years old. After being captured, the tuna are placed in very large pens, about a football field long giving them ample swimming space, and fed  100% wild caught fatty fish such as herring, sardines and mackerel, all  of which are natural tuna prey, until they regain their weight. This  process provides year-round sustainable production with no tuna kept  longer than a year or harvested before it reaches 500 lbs. or more. To  insure the highest quality, tuna are harvested only when an order is  received from a wholesaler or broker and guaranteed with a health  certificate so the final user is assured of the quality and freshness of the end product.

Balfego ID Code Ticket

Actually, each fish is given a unique code number and a QR code to provide  details and traceability; you can input this code at Balfegó’s website  or scan the QR code on a smart phone and all the necessary details  become available. 

Tuna fishing is regulated by law on a worldwide base and limited to a 4  million ton annual catch only after spawning, to guarantee a continuing  population of which the U.S. is the end user of about 1,000 tons per  year. But the market is growing as more and more Americans discover the  delights of this tasty and healthy product of the sea.

Big Tuna Toro Rolls

For tuna lovers, raw or cooked, curious about the story of tuna, check out  the Balfegó catalog on-line, it is a fascinating and informative read:

https://balfego.com/app/uploads/2016/03/ENG_catalegBalfego.pdf

Or for those who simply choose to enjoy a meal without knowledge of where  it came from, visit your favorite Japanese restaurant and ask who their  bluefin tuna supplier is, and if its Balfegó you can eat to your  heart’s content knowing that you are eating the finest.

www.zumarestaurant.com

www.balfego.com

 

 

 

© April 2018 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.

 

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