Bluefin Tuna Sushi

Tuna is one of the most highly prized fish used in Japanese raw fish dishes. About 80% of the caught Atlantic and Pacific bluefin tunas are consumed in Japan. Bluefin tuna sashimi is a particular delicacy in Japan.

The Japanese began eating tuna sushi in the 1840s, when a large catch came into Edo one season. A chef marinated a few pieces in soy sauce and served it as “nigiri sushi.” At that time these fish were nicknamed shibi “four days” because chefs would bury them for four days to mellow their bloody taste. Nigiri Tuna Sushi

By the 1930s, tuna sushi was commonplace in Japan. After World War II Japanese fishermen needed more fish to eat and to export for European and U.S. canning industries. They expanded their range and perfected industrial long-lining, a practice that employs thousands of baited hooks on miles-long nets. In the 1970s Japanese manufacturers developed lightweight, high-strength polymers that were spun into drift nets. Though they were banned on the high seas by the early 1990s, in the 1970s hundreds of miles of them were often deployed in a single night. At-sea freezing technology then allowed them to bring frozen sushi-ready tuna from the farthest oceans to market after as long as a year.

The initial target for Tuna was yellowfin tuna. The Japanese did not value bluefin before the 1960s. By the late 1960s, sportfishing for giant bluefin tuna was on the rise off Nova Scotia, New England and Long Island. North Americans, too, had little appetite for bluefin, usually discarding them after taking a picture. Bluefin sportfishing’s rise, however, coincided with Japan’s export boom. In the 1960s and ’70s, Cargo planes were returning to Japan empty. A Japanese entrepreneur realized he could buy New England and Canadian bluefin cheaply, and started filling Japan-bound holds with tuna. Exposure to beef and other fatty meats during the U.S. occupation had prepared the Japanese palate for bluefin’s fatty belly. The Atlantic bluefin was the biggest and the favorite. The appreciation rebounded across the Pacific when Americans started to eat raw fish in the late 1970s.

Tuna Market

Prior to the 1960s, Atlantic bluefin fisheries were relatively small scale, and populations remained stable. Although some local stocks, such as those in the North Sea, were damaged by unrestricted commercial fishing, other populations were not at risk. However, in the 1960s purse seiners catching fish for the canned tuna market in United States coastal waters removed huge numbers of juvenile and young Western Atlantic bluefin, taking out several entire year classes. Mediterranean fisheries have historically been poorly regulated and catches under-reported, with French, Spanish, Italian fishermen competing with North African nations for a diminishing population. The fish’s migratory habits complicate the task of regulating the fishery, because they spend time in the national waters of multiple countries as well as the open ocean outside of any national jurisdiction.


Do It Yourself Tuna Sushi Recipes

Spicy Tuna Roll –
Spicy Tuna Roll with Cucumber –
Tuna nigiri – how to make tuna nigiri sushi –
Seared Tuna Sushi Roll Recipe –
Spicy Tuna Sushi Roll –

Homemade Tuna Sushi