I have mentioned that it is getting more and more difficult to get fresh blue fin tuna from Catalina Offshore Products because it is offered only infrequently. For that matter, our Tako Grill appears to be having difficulty getting toro as well. The other day, when I checked the Catalina site, both top loin and toro block were available and, without hesitation, I ordered both blocks (small blocks 1lb each).
Here is the first sashimi I prepared on the Friday evening the tuna arrived.
The Toro was just excellent. I served mostly toro and a small portion of chutoro 中トロ (or more like kotoro 小トロ). Since I had half a (leftover) ripe avocado, I also served slices of avocado in sashimi-style. For garnish, I made the usual daikon garnish mixed with mini-cucumber (skin portion only) and carrot. Instead of the usual raw preparation, I salted the vegetables and then squeezed out the excess moisture. I then dressed them with sushi vinegar. The wasabi was freshly thawed “real” wasabi. We have not tasted this kind of good quality toro, actually more like Ootoro 大トロ, for quite some time. This is melt-in-your mouth good. My wife ooed and aahhed appropriately.
I realized that, although I have posted sashimi from Catalina several times and how to prepare the large belly loin block, I did not illustrated how I prepared the small block of tuna belly into sashimi. Since I am running out of dishes I can post, I thought this would be a good punt.
Here is a small one pound block of toro. This is from a rather small tuna and it has the skin on. The left side is toward the belly .
The toro block usually has a very dark red portion called “chiai” 血合い and small top loin portion, in this case, “chutoro” 中トロ. I first removed the chiai part and then the triangular shaped “chutoro” block .
Now I have three portions; on the left toro with the skin still on, chiai in the middle, and chutoro on the right. Usually I discard “chiai” but this time I made a dish from it.
Using a thin sharp blade (since I do not own a traditional “yanagi” knife 柳刃, I used a salmon fillet knife from Global which works fine for me. I removed the skin, by placing the toro skin down on the cutting board then moving the blade horizontally between the skin and toro while pressing on the toro with my palm. I removed a thin layer of mostly fat that was attached to the skin (right above and below picture). I did not discard this almost pure fat.
The left on the picture above is the toro bock. I cleaned up the white membrane (“peritoneal” lining which lines the abdominal cavity of the fish) which is shown on the right edge of the toro block in the picture above. Sometimes bone may be present, so I carefully look for it and remove it. This is a rather small block but I cut it into two making two small rectangular blocks or “saku” from which I sliced the sashimi seen in the first picture.
The portions we did not eat immediately, I wrapped in parchment paper and placed it in a ziploc bag and stored them in the meat drawer of the refrigerator. It should last at least 2 more days.