CALGARY — For the first time in 12 years a massive bluefin tuna has finally stayed in Canada, instead of being shipped in an ice box to Japan, and the ocean feast will take place in land-locked Calgary.
Two local restaurateurs spent $25,000 to score the fish that was caught off the coast of the Prince Edward Island last Friday.
Maurizio Terrigno, owner of Osteria de Medici, and Aki Fujita, owner of Zen 8, will be serving the more than 440-kilogram fish to their customers while supply lasts.
The two restaurateurs were mum on how much customers will have to pay for a pan-seared tuna steak or a piece of sushi, but they said it will be reasonably priced.
“If you want the best you’ve got to pay for it,” said Terrigno, as he sampled freshly made sushi while the rest of the fish was being cut up at the City Fish market.
Terrigno said he’s been trying for years to bring home this kind of fish to sell at his restaurant, but he’d been losing to other bidders who automatically ship the tuna to Japan where it’s a prized commodity.
Fujita was excited with the coup they scored for the local restaurant patrons.
“This fish is healthy food and it’s so much better than any other kind,” said Fujita. “We don’t call it the king for sushi or sashimi making, it’s the emperor.”
Hero Inoue with Zen 8 helped in cutting up the giant fish.
“This is the best cut, called toro,” said Inoue, explaining that toro is the Japanese term for the fatty part of the tuna, found in the belly portion of the fish.
Fujita said toro is the more expensive cut due to its taste, texture and relative scarcity in proportion to the entire fish.
Part of what makes the bluefin tuna expensive are the restrictions around fishing it, said Terrigno.
“You’re only allowed five days in a year when you can try and catch the thing,” he said.
Hundreds of P.E.I. fishermen went looking for the rare fish last week and one group caught the giant tuna.
Fishermen in that province are allowed to catch 140 metric tonnes of bluefin and last week they caught about 38 metric tonnes.
Fishermen decided to catch the balance of their quota of 100 metric tonnes in October when the fish are fatter.
Terrigno said he’s slated to go back to P.E.I. in the fall and he’ll try to score more giant tuna for his Calgary patrons.