As many of our readers know, you aren’t supposed to eat bluefin. The wild stocks have been horribly depleted. So-called ‘farmed’ bluefin are really just wild fish that are caught and fattened up for a couple of months.
But Kindai bluefin tuna are different. Kindai tuna are produced through closed cycle farming. They are raised from eggs hatched in a lab at Kinki University in Japan, and the eggs are obtained from fish grown from eggs hatched in Kinki’s lab. This cycle has been going on for several generations, although the folks at Kinki have been working on the problem for decades. Kinki does take some bluefin from the wild to increase the genetic diversity of their breeding stock, but they claim to release enough hatched juveniles to make up for it (a company representative told me this; I haven’t seen it confirmed in a written paper).
There are some folks who don’t like the idea of Kindai tuna. Some say bluefin shouldn’t be farmed at all because the operations are too resource-intensive—it takes a lot of fish to grow a pound of tuna. But since when is the food only about efficiency? (I once spent 2 days producing a single quart of super-perfect wine reduction.) If the mackerel, sand eel, and squid that are fed to Kindai tuna are in danger of depletion it would be a different story—I don’t think they are. Some also argue that inefficient feeding regimens of large-scale aquaculture pollute the ocean because wasted food sinks to the bottom of the ocean and rots. The Kinki people counter that they feed their tuna only as much as they want to eat, by hand. Lastly, some critics argue that customers who have just stopped eating bluefin are confused when they are given an option they are allowed to eat, spoiling all the effective anti-bluefin education. This argument makes the least sense to me; the only real concern is that wild bluefin could be falsely marketed as Kindai.
If you are going to eat bluefin, Kindai seems like a good bet. Here is how to cut one up and use the parts. Enjoy.
NOTE 1 Some of the pictures are quite small. If you click on them a new window will open with an 800 pixel wide version without captions. NOTE 2 I am no tuna expert. Let me know if there are errors or omissions.
Chefs Suzuki and Kobayashi did not demonstrate cutting the upper quarter (back cho) into saku.