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Cuisine

Tuna prices on rise; try fresh from Atlantic

7/6/12 | By Paul Suplee, CEC PCIII

Tuna, tuna everywhere, nor any a bite to eat

Or so goes a poor variation of the fabled ancient mariner as I try to get ready for this week’s rendition of food fears.

There is a slight problem with tuna in this day and age. If you haven’t noticed, tuna (steak and loin) is either disappearing from the store shelves or more expensive than in the past. While there is not a shortage of tuna, there is a shortage of consumable, radiation-free tuna.

Rest assured that if you are eating tuna that you buy at a restaurant or grocery store, it has been tested. I don’t want to scare anyone; I just want to explain what is happening out there.

Restaurants can still buy good tuna from their purveyors, but the shortage you may or may not have noticed comes from the events in Japan after the tsunami.

Apparently, after the nuclear meltdown, concern was rampant with the safety of seafood as runoff was naturally found in the surrounding waters.

Those fears were seemingly confirmed recently even as far away as our Pacific Northwest, where tuna caught off the Northern California coast were tested to be 10 times the allowed radiation levels.

As such, there are shipping containers of tuna at rest in the various U.S ports as they go through extensive testing to ensure public safety.

There doesn’t seem to be any issue with the Atlantic Tuna, and in fact, there are some options on the Monterey Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list when it comes to tuna, to include Yellowfin, Bluefin, Bigeye and other tuna species.

The Seafood Watch is a great resource to gather information on what seafood to eat and what to avoid. The reasons stem from various contaminations to species that are on the brink of endangerment. The list affords the seafood buyer the opportunity to make educated decisions and purchase conscientiously.

Now that I have written to this point, rather tongue in cheek, I need to express that there may or may not be direct issues with the tuna. However, the scare tactics used by various agencies allow the industry to greatly increase prices.

In comparison, when a calf is found to have mad cow disease in South Korea, the entire beef market goes through the roof. People are not buying beef any less, but the fear is reason enough for brokers to double the price for about a week or two.

The same goes with seafood. Tuna prices, as a result of this issue, are double what they were a year ago. It is one of those great mysteries of life.

The only thing I can suggest for you is to go to your local fishmonger and ask about the origin of their tuna. Fresh tuna is the best route, and most of the tuna on this coast comes from the Atlantic. As such, there isn’t the doubling of price like we see in the Pacific tuna. But it will still be more than you are used to paying.

So now that I have scared the tuna out of you, let me just say that it is still one of my favorite fish to eat. I have yet to catch one, but I hear that is an amazing feat. Cooking it will have to suffice for a while.

Tuna Sandwich

serves 4

4 4-ounce tuna steaks, fresh

Marinade (recipe follows)

Lettuce and tomato

Brioche buns

Honey mustard (recipe follows)

Fresh potato chips (Recipe follows)

• Place the tuna steaks in the marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and as long as overnight

• When ready to serve, simply grill until the tuna is medium rare and build your sandwiches

• The brioche buns may be hard to find at the store, but if you talk to your local chef, he or she may have some that they can sell you. Or you can make your own. It is a butter- and egg-rich dough that is well worth making. Fresh brioche is hands-down my favorite bread

Tuna Marinade

1/2 cup oil

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1 Tbsp. blackening seasoning

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger

• Combine all ingredients and use as the marinade for the tuna

Honey Mustard

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup Key lime juice

honey to taste

• Combine ingredients, adjusting to your preference. I like this to be sweet and sour but you might like yours another way

Potato Chips

serves 4

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed

oil for frying

salt as needed

• Run the potatoes through a mandoline as thinly as you like

• Place in cold water and allow to soak for at least 30 minutes. This removes some of the starch and gives you a crisper chip

• Dry the chips with a paper towel and heat the oil

• Fry the chips at 350 degrees until crisp and barely golden

• Season with salt and serve immediately

Paul G. Suplee is a certified executive chef and ProChef certified Level-3. He is a writer and culinary instructor. Find his ePortfolio at www.heartofakitchen.com

 

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