Albacore Three Ways

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After the weekend tuna-processing fest, Neal sent me home with a big bag of various albacore parts. I couldn’t decide which to cook or by what method, so decided to go nuts and cook it all–probably almost five pounds of fish. For the four of us. Ah, gluttony.

The real pleasure in these late-season tuna is the high fat-content, which varies with each section of the fish, so I wanted to cook for maximum fish fat enjoyment. I took the tuna bellies and marinated them in homemade teriyaki sauce (I make a huge batch about once a year and try to keep it on hand) then grilled them over a hot fire. The resulting belly strips, in the center above, came out a lot like fish bacon, which essentially, they are. Slightly crisp on the outside and melting on the inside.

The upper belly-wall section of the fish is firmer in texture, yet still packed with marbling. So I sliced these sections for sashimi, which we ate with soy sauce and wasabi. So creamy and mild, and so fatty you couldn’t pick the pieces up with smooth chopsticks–they slipped through every time. Delicious.

Finally, the large shoulder loin section deserved to be cooked whole. So I coated it lightly with soy sauce, mirin, honey and ginger, then rolled the whole chunk in a mix of furikake (Japanese rice seasoning), sesame seeds and dried, seasoned shiso leaves. Threw it on the hot grill just long enough to develop a crispy crust on the outside, leaving the interior raw. Then sliced into steaks for serving.

It turned out to be one of my favorite meals of the year…top five, for sure. On the side we had the last of our garden string beans and an aromatic shiitake mushroom/chanterelle sushi rice cooked with a bit of rice vinegar to cut through all the fish oil. Holy smokes. I ate so much I could barely breath last night. And somehow, we pretty much demolished the whole bag of albacore. I think there are three small loin steaks left and that’s about it. Thanks, Neal! We thoroughly enjoyed every single bite.

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