Catch of the day

An­thony Huck­step. He tells why ev­ery­one wants a piece of bluefin.

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Your ex­pert guide to a global great.

GLOB­ALLY, IT MAY BE

as con­tro­ver­sial as that mon­key-aban­don­ing JBT (Justin Bieber t****r), but south­ern bluefin tuna (SBT), prized for its creamy mouth­feel when eaten raw, is, in fact, caught then grown un­der the world’s most strin­gent man­age­ment prac­tices in Aus­tralia, and it’s helped pro­tect and re­build the biomass.

An open ocean dweller, SBT needs to feed con­stantly to main­tain its high en­ergy lev­els. This means it’s al­ways on the prowl for smaller fish, crus­taceans and mol­luscs. That, com­bined with the non-stop ac­tiv­ity, helps build lay­ers of fat through­out its mus­cles, mak­ing it in­cred­i­bly de­li­cious to eat.

Most SBT in Aus­tralia is purse seined, not line caught. The tuna is cap­tured live, in the Great Aus­tralian Bight, slowly towed back to Port Lin­coln in SA and kept in large float­ing pens where it dou­bles in size over 4-6 months on a diet of pilchards, squid and mack­erel.

Prized wild-caught SBT is of­ten found on the east coast in win­ter and spring, with the largest/fat­ti­est mostly sent to pre­mium sashimi mar­kets in Ja­pan.

“We pro­duce amaz­ing tu­nas in Aus­tralia, from the al­ba­core to yel­lowfin and big­eye, too, but the south­ern bluefin tuna is the most de­li­cious,” says fish ex­pert John Susman of Fish­tales seafood con­sul­tants.

In­deed, we have the Ja­pa­nese to thank for the SBT’s lux­ury sta­tus. The na­tion’s dis­cov­ery that Aus­tralian bluefin is one of the world’s high­est- qual­ity tuna, per­fect for sashimi prep, and their teach­ing of fish­er­men how to catch and han­dle them, has seen SBT gain rock­star sta­tus in less than a gen­er­a­tion.

“Be pre­pared for a unique dif­fer­ence in south­ern bluefin tuna from other species,” says Susman. “Whilst other tu­nas have bright-red flesh, the colour of the meat in south­ern bluefin tuna is a rich bur­gundy and can be a light pink across the fat-filled belly, which makes it an unc­tu­ous eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The flesh is typ­i­cally softer than other tu­nas also, due to its very high fat con­tent, which makes it a highly prized sashimi fish. But it’s per­fect for brais­ing or to con­fit at low tem­per­a­ture, too.”

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