I’m just going to come out and say it. We caught a bluefin tuna.
I use the term “caught” loosely. We reeled the fish in, but that never would have happened without the kindness — not to mention expertise and equipment — of strangers. There’s a story about catching that tuna, and it involves new friends, exciting adventure, and whales. I’m going to tell you all about it in the next day or two. Meantime, I’m going to throw chronology to the winds and tell you first about the tuna sushi we’ve been eating.
We caught the tuna yesterday. All the way home, we talked about what to do with such an embarrassment of fish riches. Yes, we’d need some seared steaks, but what else?
You can’t be driving home with some fifteen pounds of hours-old bluefin tuna on ice without thinking sushi. There would have to be sushi.
Anyone who knows the first thing about microbiology knows you’re not supposed to eat fish raw without first freezing it. All fish, even the ones fresh out of the ocean, carry parasites, and some of those parasites can make humans very sick. Most of those parasites don’t survive below 32 degrees, and so all the responsible authorities recommend, in the strongest terms, freezing all fish before you make it into sushi.
We don’t have a flash freezer, and we couldn’t bring ourselves to compromise the texture and flavor of this pristine fish. (Did I mention that we caught it ourselves?) So we said to hell with the responsible authorities. We’d risk it and sushify some of our tuna.
The elderly, along with infants and those with compromised immune systems, are most strongly advised to avoid risky food, but we knew my parents feel just about the same as we do when it comes to responsible authorities, so we invited them over. Besides, they’re not that elderly.
Neither Kevin nor I has ever made sushi before, and we didn’t expect to get complex techniques, techniques that sushi chefs make careers out of perfecting, right in a night. We were aiming for a reasonable approximation.
Sushi rice is easy enough, and I made a batch of it. Kevin sliced tuna from both the belly and the body of the tuna. We made sashimi, we made sushi, and I made a spicy tuna roll with the scraps. (I didn’t have one of those bamboo mats you roll sushi with, so I used a silicone baking liner instead.) Kevin broke out the blowtorch, and seared the top of some of the sushi.
Stylistically, it would undoubtedly have gotten us kicked out of sushi school. The slices were uneven, the rice was clumpy, the rolls were loose. But damned if it wasn’t the best sushi we’d ever had.
The thing about catching your own food is that you’re never sure just why it tastes better than other food. Was this meal better because we were eating tuna that was impeccably fresh, handled correctly, and never frozen, or was it simply because – did I mention this? – we caught it ourselves.
We had it again, tonight.
Kevin and I have eaten in some of the best restaurants in the world. We have friends who are wonderful cooks, and have invited us to share many extraordinary meals . We’re not so bad ourselves, and we eat well at home. But I can’t remember ever feeling so fortunate as I did, standing at my kitchen table crowded with dishes and condiments and rice and this beautiful fish, eating lopsided sushi we made from a tuna we caught ourselves.
Well, a tuna we reeled in ourselves. The actual catching is another story, and it is forthcoming.