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Archive for the ‘Tuna (Maguro)’ Category

New seafood calculator lets you know if you’re eating too much seafood

Think you’re eating too much seafood? Try this new calculator.

We all know that there are some species of seafood that we should consume in moderation. If you wonder if you are eating too much tuna, or eating too much fish, this new tool produced by the EU helps you plan your eating habits.

how much is 100 grams of salmon

The tool is very simple to use, with visual representations to make it easy to select your diet – or the diet you want to start. Although the presentation is not going to make anyone eat more sardines…

The calculator shows a list of pollutants in fish

While the calculator is not the most detailed in terms of nutrients, it excels in terms of identifying pollutants and harmful substances in seafood. Here’s an example of what someone who eats 200g of salmon, 100g tuna, and 180g of mussels would see.

pollutants in fish

On another page, each of the pollutants is defined and explained. You might be surprised to find out what is in your seafood! Check out the calculator yourself and see what you find.

One note: while we personally eat tuna in moderation, the calculator suggests that even those who pick the smallest amount possible of tuna (100g) switch to mackerel.

Who is this calculator funded by?

You always want to know the source of science. Are there any underlying motives behind the information presented? We took a look to find the source of this useful tool.

The calculator is funded by a grant from the EU as part of the ECsafeSEAFOOD under program FP7. It is a consortium of 18 partners from 10 countries with 10 goals centering around contaminants in seafood. The project is very interesting, and more research can be done on their official page.

The calculator does not show calories in sushi

The calculator is very sparse in details in terms of the planning a diet out for weight loss. If you’re looking for something much more specific in terms of calories, protein, fat, carbs and more, we have a great free resource on our calories in sushi page.

Is bigeye tuna feeling the same overfishing pressure as bluefin?

bigeye tunaIf you were skeptical with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation’s (ISSF) status of healthy for Pacific bigeye tuna, you will, unfortunately, feel vindicated at the recent downgrading of the species stock to orange, meaning that Pacific bigeye is now considered overfished. While bigeye tuna are not in a state of imminent collapse, according to the ISSF, stocks are gradually declining and big picture changes need to be made to the way the species is managed globally. Bigeye tuna is down to 16 percent of its original population, but catch rates have only grown with record breaking catch of the fish by Honolulu in the previous year.

There are 23 major stocks of commercial tuna species, six albacore, four bigeye, four bluefin, five skipjack and four yellowfin stocks. Bigeye tuna account for 10% of the legal fishing of tuna, meaning that bigeye stocks are the third most exploited. It is unclear if the green, or healthy rating that the ISSF accorded to bigeye tuna stocks contributed to the continued decline in health of bigeye population. President Barack Obama has taken steps to protect the fish and other stocks by extending the no-fishing area around pacific islands Jarvis, south Palmyra and Wake, increasing the no-fishing zone which has brought praise by environmental groups and harsh criticism from the fishing industry.

While banning of fishing gear could help contribute to the overall management of bigeye tuna, it is reduction in fishing rates that are needed in order to stop the gradual decline in stock before the viability of the species reaches the tipping point. It is not just a matter of decreasing by-catch and outlawing the most harmful fishing methods, but a matter of global participation in making long term plans that will restore not just bigeye tuna but all at risk tuna stocks.

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Massive Bluefin Tuna Caught Off Nova Scotia

Bluefin TunaMarc Towers and Neil Cooke came to the coast of Nova Scotia with a goal: catch a bluefin tuna. Clocking in at an average of 6.5 feet long and over 500 lbs, these torpedo shaped fish are respected for their size, strength and endurance, making them some of the toughest opponents even for skilled fishers. While Towers was prepared for bluefin, he could never have imagined the sheer size of the monstrosity on the end of his line when he hooked a 1,000 lb goliath of a bluefin tuna.

Two exhausting hours later, Mr. Towers managed to wear the beast down and drag it to the surface, where it proved to be simply too massive to haul aboard. The deckhand lassoed the fish, and the crew dragged it to shore where it was moved by crane to a forklift which transported it to the storage fridge where it awaits sale. Destination? Most likely Japan.

Japan is the sushi capital of the world, and the country has a voracious demand for bluefin, with estimates of 70-80% of legally caught bluefin tuna ending up in the Japanese market. This 1,000 pound beast could net in excess of $30,000 (not bad for a fishing trip!) and could be made into over 20,000 servings of delicious sushi. Maybe they can put the money towards a bigger boat!

While bluefin tuna is a delicacy, the enormous demand for the fish has caused populations to dip dangerously low. It is now one of the most regulated species, with quotas being reduced almost yearly to 12,900 tons in 2011, down from 32,000 in 2006. The fact is, however, that with any fish that can net in excess of $30,000 there is a real risk of illegal fishing which put the survival of the species in peril. For those who are worried about the sustainability of bluefin tuna, a better alternative that has a similar taste is the more prevalent albacore tuna.

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The most expensive tuna ever sold

Bluefin TunaAnd we have a new winner! As is usual, on the first auction for the new year at the Tsukiji fish market, a new record was set for the most expensive tuna sold. Selling for $736,000 (56.49 million Yen), the 593 pound (269 kilogram) bluefin tuna came out around $1,238 per pound. That price likely does not reflect real market prices, which are still quite high, but more the celebratory feeling that permeates the Tsukiji fish market on the first auction day of the year.

Every year, a new record seems to be set for the bluefin tuna, which should come as no surprise as these fish are becoming more and more scarce every year. While the fish has already been prepared and sold as nigiri sushi and sashimi for under cost (no doubt as 1 piece would normally have have retailed for $96 per, if you do the math on the size of the fish), there will be more to come. But doubtfully not at the same incredible price.

Atlantic and Pacific Bluefin tuna are primarily eaten in japan (which purchases about 80% of the global catch of these species). They face growing calls to reduce their catches due to the incredible decline in the number of bluefin tuna in the oceans over the past 25 years. Probably every year for a few more I will be able to make a post like this, but there will come a time, when the fish are commercially extinct, when I won’t. And that will be a sad day.

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What will you do when there is no more bluefin tuna?

Идея за подаръкBluefin TunaHow will you feel when there is no more bluefin tuna sushi? No maguro. No toro. While I tend to rant a bit when it comes to the issue of over harvesting bluefin tuna, I will try to take a step off my pedestal for this entry, but I would really like to hear what others have to say if the situation gets to the point where there is no more bluefin tuna commercially viable. It is a very real possibility in the not too distant future.

Many restaurants serve big eye tuna, yellowfin, or other species rather than bluefin tuna, even when a person may think they are ordering bluefin. While they don’t imply they are serving bluefin and to purposefully bait and switch, nevertheless, very often you are not being served bluefin when you order a tuna roll. This makes me wonder. If no one is particularly conscious of what they are eating, and they see plenty of “tuna,” it may not be on people’s minds that real maguro and toro may disappear. As long as you still receive what you are expecting based on historical precedence, nothing needs to change.

So perhaps it will make no difference when the bluefin tuna disappears from the oceans. Diners will keep ordering tuna, without knowing what species they are eating. No one will be the wiser. I don’t mean this in any pejorative way, either, while the loss of a species is a tragedy, for all intents and purposes, it may not affect the sushi world in any real way.

How do other sushi diners feel about this? I certainly eat tuna, and when I can, avoid bluefin. But There are still plenty of fish in the sea (and the aqua farms), so to speak. Is the loss of bluefin a concern for you? Will you miss real toro? Would you back a forced sustainability program to keep the real fish on the plate? Do tell.

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The Origin of the California Roll

California rollAh, the humble California roll. While I often refer to this as the “Big Mac” of rolls, it is actually quite tasty, given its lack of any real historical precedents. California rolls are far from traditional sushi, but they aren’t as far from the norm as you might expect. All it took was a little innovation and something was created that now dominates the sushi world.

The style of sushi we know and love originates in Japan, and the Japanese are known for their adoption and innovation of western ideas. As sushi moved westward into the U.S., it became more and more popular. California was a natural inception point for many things Japanese, and sushi was a big hit on the west coast from the start. Back in the 1960’s, though, food transportation was not as efficient as it is now, so acquiring certain types of fish was not always easy. Supply didn’t often meet demand, and in a particular sushi bar called Tokyo Kaikan in Los Angeles, a sushi chef named Ichiro Mashita found himself lacking in toro, the fatty tuna belly, which was much in demand. So he began substituting avocado for the toro, and having a creamy, fatty consistency, this worked out well. After a little more experimentation, Ichiro devised the roll that we today call the California Roll.

From a simple substitution came a roll that that is one of the most popular today. While it is very American in terms of it’s constituents (avocado was never used in Japan in sushi until it became popular in the U.S.), one might argue that this is a great example of the Japanese concept of urawaza (translated as secret trick), where a person experiments to find a simple solution to a common or simple problem. No toro? Try something similar… And it eventually transformed into something new and interesting. While It is not a perfect analogy, it is a perfect example of gastronomic creativity. While it is not something always on my plate, I certainly enjoy ordering a California roll on occasion, and it is a reminder of how food can evolve as local adaptations are accepted.

If you love California rolls but are unsure of how healthy they are, check out the California roll calories and nutrition information entry in our sushi calories and nutrition information page. Or make one at home, with the California roll entry on our recipes page!

 

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New Bluefin Tuna Price Record

Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin Tuna

And we have a winner! Today, January 5th, 2011, a 754 pound bluefin tuna was sold in the Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan for a whopping $396,000 (or about $526/lb). What makes this even more interesting is that the last record sale price was recorded on the exact same date in 2001, 10 years ago to the day. What a coincidence! (well, sort of, as this is the first auction of the year, but it’s still interesting).

While this is news in and of itself, this could be the final record for a long time as the November 2010 meeting where the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) decreased the 2011 quota by only 4%. With these fish over harvested for years, it is just a matter of time before they are commercially extinct.

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An Evening of Sushi at Home

As I do on occasion, last weekend I decided to make sushi at home. We had some friends over, supplied the fish and the sake, and for a few hours, we were our own itamae (sushi chef).  My order from Catalina Offshore Products arrived on Friday, and I immediately prepared the food and stored it properly for the festivities. I make sushi at home with uncertain frequency, but I have made available a section of SushiFAQ about how to make sushi at home that I recommend anyone read if they too are interested in doing the same. It is fun, relatively easy, and an experience you won’t soon forget. It is a hands on meal, and as such, I feel it creates a pleasant, informal atmosphere the brings out the best in people, as they share their creations, make a mess with their first few rolls, and share high quality food that they love.

The food arrived the next day, and I was eager to start preparing.

Sushi grade fish awaiting processing

Sushi grade fish awaiting processing

As there were 6 of us eating (5 adults and one 8 year old who has developed a love of sushi) there was a great deal of food to prepare. One of the favorites of the evening was the tuna. A 2 pound block had to be cut properly so that we could make both nigiri sushi, cut rolls (maki), and hand rolls (temaki). Of course we also ended up eating a lot as sashimi as well. The bits and pieces that were not shaped into the block were used in rolls to great effect.

Preparing tuna for sushi

Preparing tuna for sushi

While I tend to avoid farmed salmon, I was assured by the folks at Catalina that this particular fish from New Zealand was not the usual junk that I feel most farmed salmon is. And they were right. The fillet was beautiful, it did not look artificially colored, the texture was great, and had all the rich buttery-ness that I come to expect from high grade salmon. They have changed my mind about what farmed salmon can be.

The scallops were huge. Practically the size of my fist (or so it seemed) I had to cut them in half before slicing them yet again so they would fit on the rice as nigiri sushi. They were fresh, dry scallops (not treated with sodium tripolyphosphate to preserve and bulk them up), and I couldn’t help popping a few in my mouth intact while preparing them, something I rarely get to do. Creamy and sweet, they are probably one of my favorite items from the sea.

Scallops ready for sushi

Scallops ready for sushi

Then, the rarely ordered abalone. These guys are shipped live, like oysters, and are not something many people have the chance to experience. They are not inexpensive, nor are they easy to prepare, but they are worth every minute of effort. I cleaned them, and sliced them thinly to be eaten, preferably, as sashimi. While still a bit crunchy, they are subtly redolent of the sea and a rare treat for me at home.

Live abalone

Live abalone

The rice was cooked and seasoned earlier in the day, and all the food was prepared for the evening.

Seafood prepared for sushi

Seafood prepared for sushi

We started with the squid salad, seaweed salad, and sake. We quickly descended into madness.

Seaweed salad

Seaweed salad

Squid salad

Squid salad

With real wasabi (instead of the paste of American horseradish that you so often see) to accompany our meal, we made our sushi, laughed at each others’ creations, and ate the best meal I have experienced in a long time.

Preparing for a cut roll (maki)

Preparing for a cut roll (maki)

The first rule of Sushi Club is you don’t talk about Sushi Club (oops). The second rule is that it doesn’t matter what your creation looks like as long as it tastes great (and it will). I originally wanted to document the whole process of sushi and maki making, however it is available on the How To Make Sushi section of SushiFAQ, and also, to be honest, the sake got in the way.

Sake inspired maki

Sake inspired maki

Nigiri sushi

Nigiri sushi

We rolled and ate, ate and rolled, and by the end of the evening we didn’t have much room for the mochi and ice cream that I love. At least that stores well in the freezer.

Mochi and ice cream

Mochi and ice cream

While making sushi at home may seem intimidating, it does not need to be so. It is fun, interesting, and as long as you get sushi grade fish, anyone can make great food at home, to rival a restaurant. I order my fish from Catalina Offshore Products, and recommend them to anyone.  My cats even appreciated the left overs.

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Bluefin Tuna Fishing Quotas Under Review This Week

Bluefin TunaThis week in Paris is the showdown where ICCAT (The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas) will set bluefin tuna quotas for 2011. From November 17 – 27, meetings will take place between member nations to discuss the severe decline in bluefin tuna stocks and where the fishing quota shout be set, hopefully in order to balance demand for these creatures, which are served as sushi (maguro & toro), and the need to reduce quotas to save the species from extinction.

Conservation groups, such as WWF, are demanding severe cuts to the current quota of 13,500 metric tons caught internationally, saying that the species is on the brink of extinction and will not survive much more harvesting at these quotas, particularly as poaching increases that number significantly each year and there is some admission from member nations that they do not adhere to the quotas. The other side of the coin is the fishing nations’ complaint that reducing the quotas will end jobs and reduce the economic opportunity for the fishermen who rely on the sea. Of course, what they don’t address is what will happen to those fishermen when the tuna are commercially depleted. While the EU Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanaki had proposed a 2011 quota of 6,000 metric tons for 2011 (which would be consistent with sustainability goals proposed for 2022), she immediately backtracked after a boisterous response from some member nations, and has instead called for a “substantial reduction” rather than a hard limit.

After the failed European Union attempt o have the species listed as endangered in March, many see this meeting as a last ditch effort to save the species. The species has declined an estimated 85% over the past four decades due to their value as a food fish, and unless more manageable practices are implemented, there is certainly reason to believe that stocks will continue to decline further.

Unfortunately the only groups that seem to be looking for year over year cuts to quotas are those that do not profit from the catch, which may indicate where the decision may lean. One can only hope that sensible minds preside and do their best to balance the need for short-term commerce with the need to preserve the species for future fishermen and sushi lovers.

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Massive Bluefin Tuna Caught in Japanese Waters

Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin Tuna

The largest Japanese tuna seen since 1986 was auctioned Friday at the Tsukiji Fish market after being caught in Japanese Waters. The Bluefin tuna, weighing 445 kilograms (981 pounds), sold for 3.2 million Yen (36,700 USD). The average size of a Bluefin tuna is about 250 kilograms (550 pounds) to put that into perspective. Bluefin tuna this massive are rarely seen, particularly these days as overfishing has reduced their population to a small fraction of what it once was.

The largest tuna from Japan ever sold at the Tsukiji Market was 496 kilogram monster in 1986, however the largest on record was a 497 Canadian tuna sold there in 1995. While this recent catch indicates that fish this large still exist, the likelihood of any more this size being caught is relatively low as without rational limits placed on tuna fishing, commercial harvest of Bluefin tuna will end fairly soon. The sushi scene will be changed forever.

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