in South Philly, moves a 196-pound Kindai bluefin tuna.
By Aliza Green
The Philadelphia Inquirer
It’s a chilly 35 degrees in the fish-cutting room at the new state-of-the-art headquarters of Samuels & Son Seafood in South Philadelphia’s wholesale fish market.
Two workers carefully lift the beautiful, shiny, silvery-blue, torpedo-shaped, 196-pound tuna from its coffin-shaped foam air-freight container onto the worktable.
This ultra-luxury bluefin tuna called Kindai is flown in weekly from Japan for Samuels to sell to chefs who pay about $40 to $50 per pound to serve it, usually as sushi, ceviche, or crudo.
One of the company’s top cutters, Pham Mung, carefully dissects the fish into custom-cut sections, with the super-fatty bottom loin, or otoro, the most expensive. The silky, buttery, luminous flesh is deep red, almost purple, with a beautiful texture and a pure and vivid taste.
But this bluefin tuna was not caught in the open sea; it began its life as an egg in a lab at a Japanese university and is now being offered at some of the finest local restaurants serving sushi and crudo, including Morimoto, Zama, and Vetri in Center City and Fuji in Haddonfield.
Since the 1970s, as sushi has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, demand has skyrocketed for bluefin, a fish many sushi aficionados consider piscine royalty. As a result, “an estimated 80 percent of the world’s bluefin tuna stocks have been fished out.”