We all know that body types and shapes can vary among different races even though we are all categorized as human. So would you be surprised if I told you that the body structure of blue fin tuna found in the oceans surrounding Japan differs from those found in other parts of the world? I was very surprised when I read this fact in Jiro’s book.
I also read a blog by the owner of a tuna wholesaler in Tsukiji who says Japanese tuna are like Japanese people and imported tuna look like “gaijin”, foreigners, with much bigger bodies and heavier bone structure. The tuna not only differ in size but also in taste.
Blue fin tuna that are caught around Japan are naturally “wafu/和風” suitable for Japanese taste, and less fatty compared to others. However, as Japanese tastes have been influenced by western food culture, more Japanese are favoring fattier tuna and therefore imported tunas are also popular.
Have you heard of ChuToro being served at a sushi restaurant before? It’s the middle part between the fatty tuna and tuna. I like the color of ChuToro, where the red tuna color transitions to the fatty pink flesh. However I’ve never seen any ChuToro served in US sushi restaurants as far as I remember.
The reason is quite astonishing. It’s because there are no ChuToro parts in blue fin tuna other than the ones caught in the ocean surrounding Japan. If we compared the section of the belly area between the Japanese ocean’s blue fin tuna and the Atlantic Ocean’s tuna, the abdominal cavity is different. The one from the Atlantic Ocean’s blue fin tuna is divided into two parts, the fatty belly part and the back side reddish tuna meat part whereas the Japanese blue fin tuna’s abdominal cavity doesn’t have bones that breaks into two parts. That’s why there is a transitional piece of flesh called “Chutoro” in Japan.
This made me adore Japanese blue fin tuna and I especially craved beautiful ChuToro. Knowing this, it is still hard to justify the overfishing of blue fin tuna. Nothing could provide enough of an explanation why the Japanese buy and consume most of the blue fin tuna in the world.
But I just found one of the reasons why the Japanese are so crazy about Japanese blue fin tuna.