Many Americans think of tuna appearing in only their sandwiches and salads, but other countries have different ideas.
Take, for example, Japan. Sushi is a huge part of Japanese cuisine, and tuna is a very common ingredient for sushi. The Japanese word for tuna is “Maguro” and “Toro” refers to unsustainable Atlantic blue-fin tuna, according to Sustainable Sushi.
Albacore – the sustainable species targeted by the F/V St Jude – is referred to as “shiromaguro.”
Sustainable Sushi details which fisheries are sustainable and which are not. Albacore is in te sustainable column: “Troll-caught U.S. Pacific and Hawaii bigeye is a strong choice due to effective management, low bycatch, and rebounding populations.”
There are three grades of sushi, based on different cuts and fat content, priced accordingly: Otoro is the highest grade of fish and fat content, the fattiest part of the belly, often accompanied by the highest quality of rice. Chutoro is slightly less fatty, and toro is a generic term for fatty areas of the fish.. “If you ask for ‘maguro’ at a restaurant you will get this cut,” explains Sushifaq.com about Akami, the leaner meat along the fish’s sides.
True toro only comes from the endangered Atlantic blue fin – and so diners should question the sushi chef about species. The best sushi chefs always know.
To learn more about the customs, traditions and etiquette of Japanese sushi restaurants, check out this video, also excellent for any who are studying the Japanese language.
Image of the Japanese word for tuna, or maguro, courtesy of Japanese-symbols.org.