Catch of the day
Anthony Huckstep. He tells why everyone wants a piece of bluefin.
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.”