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Monday, August 20, 2012

Stomachs Eleven: Tuna Belly - A Banquet

whole tuna side

A full-grown tuna can measure up to 2.5 metres and weigh as much as 400 kilograms. These magnificent creatures are revered by sushi lovers the world over, prized for its taste and texture, especially the fatty tuna belly.

Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin' recently invited the Stomachs Eleven crew to join them in one giant tuna extravaganza. We didn't need to be asked twice!

Mrs Pig Flyin's Instagram pic above was enough to whet our appetites. They'd obtained the belly side of a whole tuna from a Japanese seafood wholesaler, an impressive slab weighing about fifteen kilograms.

sushi knife and tuna sashimi
Sushi knife

We made a beeline for the kitchen on arrival, admiring the cuts of tuna already portioned. Raw tuna is exquisite to look at - its soft pillowy flesh varying from shades of deep-red to dusky pinks.

blowtorching tuna sashimi
Blowtorching tuna

slicing tuna sashimi
Slicing tuna sashimi

sashimi tuna akamai chutoro aburi
Sashimi tuna trio: 
Akami (赤身), Chūtoro (中トロ) and Aburi Chutoro (あぶり中トロ)

Is there a greater joy in this world than achingly fresh tuna? We start with a trio of tuna sashimi, chunky slices of akami - the leaner part of the tuna - in crimson red, and two types of chutoro tuna belly: raw and blowtorched. The blowtorched chutoro has a tantalising smokiness, licked by flames until barely charred. In the centre is a seaweed salad and Pig Flyin's own homemade pickled ginger slices.

broccoli with mentaiko mayonnaise
Broccoli with mentaiko mayonnaise  

Cold blanched broccoli provides a counterbalance to the richness, dressed simply with a mayonnaise sauce spiked with mentaiko spicy cod roe.

kama toro tuna belly sashimi
Kama toro sashimi (かまとろ)

There's a collective gasp around the table when the kama toro is served on a Himalayan salt plate. The kama toro is a type of otoro tuna belly - this one specifically from the collar of the tuna, and the intricate marbling is worth admiring for a somber minute or two. We transfer it to our mouths and the fatty tuna languidly melts on the tongue.

kama toro tuna belly sushi
Kama toro sushi (かまトロ) 

Pig Flyin' is apologetic about his sushi-making skills, but we can barely hear his protests over our collective cries of gastronomic joy. The kama toro sushi is ridiculously good, although I confess I secretly eat the rice first just so I can savour the otoro tuna all on its own.

sunazuri toro tuna belly sushi
Sunazuri toro sushi (砂ずり大トロ)

Sunazuri toro is also part of the otoro tuna belly, characterised by distinct lines of fat that enable it to be pulled apart. The sunazuri toro is found at the bottom of the tuna belly and is especially prized.

tuna with shallots
Negi toro gunkan maki (ネギトロの軍艦巻)

We move onto negitoro - tuna dressed with a little oil and a liberal sprinkling of shallots. More often this is served on sushi rice 'battleships' but here Pig Flyin' arranges spoonfuls on shards of lavosh, providing a welcome crunch.

truffle tuna tartare
Maguro tuna tartare with truffled egg and fresh black truffle 

A tuna tartare is fancied up with a truffled egg yolk and shavings of fresh black truffle. The luxurious combination is decidedly swoon-worthy.

truffle tuna tartare
Spooning the truffled tuna tartare onto lavosh

tuna with goat curd and broad bean salad
Maguro zuke with goat curd and broad bean salad 

The next dish is a variation of the Cumulus Inc recipe for tuna tartare and crushed pea salad that we'd enjoyed last Christmas. Cubes of tuna have been marinated in soy, served with goat curd and bright green fresh broad beans.

eggplant in soy ginger vinaigrette
Eggplant in soy ginger vinaigrette (なすの揚げ煮びたし)

Eggplants dressed in a soy ginger vinaigrette make a satisying side dish.

crumbed tuna with yuzu and habanero mayonnaise
Maguro katsu with yuzu and habanero mayonnaise

Fried food is always a winner but who can deny the health-giving presentation of this maguro katsu crumbed tuna?

rare tuna
Tuna katsu cross-section

Pig Flyin' says this tuna katsu dish is inspired by Izakaya Fujiyama. It's a glorious contrast between the crunch of deep-fried bread crumbs, the raw delicate tuna in the middle, and the lashings of yuzu citrus mayonnaise on top, fired up with slivers of habanero chilli.

grilled tuna jaw
Grilled miso-suzke maguro kama tuna jaw (味噌漬けまぐろカマ焼き)

The tuna jaw is the finale of the evening, marinated with miso and simply cooked under the grill. We attack it with chopsticks, claiming a surprising amount of flesh from this often overlooked section of the fish. My favourite part is the fin, which you can crunch down like a potato chip.

clam fried rice
Rice with dried clams (あさりの炊き込みご飯)

And there's clam rice if you still happen to be hungry, studded with homegrown shiitake mushrooms and nuggets of rehydrated clams.

miso peanut butter cookies
Miso peanut butter cookies by J&J

Dessert offers a continuation of the night's gluttony. J&J's miso peanut butter cookies have a tantalising umami tinge to their sweetness and I've contributed a Valrhona rocky road jam-packed with marshmallows, raspberry licorice, peanuts and strawberries and cream lollies.

homemade rocky road
Valrhona rocky road by me

banana butterscotch mess dessert
Banana butterscotch mess

There's a banana butterscotch mess made by Pig Flyin with oat biscuits, banana, cream and banana butterscotch sauce.

eton mess dessert
Eton mess with fresh and freeze-dried strawberries

And my favourite - Eton mess. Shards of meringue, layers of fresh cream and fresh strawberries topped with smithereens of freeze-dried strawberry garnished with mint.

Another unforgettable meal - thanks Mr and Mrs Pig Flyin'. Our stomaches salute you!

otoro tuna belly
Otoro tuna belly

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas Dinner 2011
Stomachs Eleven: Bone marrow and pigs trotters
Stomachs Eleven: Pigs head and nose-to-tail eating
Stomachs Eleven: Wagyu shabu shabu and dessert sushi
20 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 8/20/2012 02:03:00 am


  • At 8/20/2012 2:04 am, Anonymous chocolatesuze said…

    i want everything. EVERYTHING. but most of all that Kama toro sashimi holy moly that looks incredible!

  • At 8/20/2012 6:50 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    Whoah, guess size does matter LOL!!! So many glorious tuna dishes! I want it all!

  • At 8/20/2012 6:50 am, Anonymous Hannah said…

    THE PIG FLYIN'S!!!! And Helen! Three of my favourite Canberra visitors of all time! :D

    I am absolutely swooning over everything here, and you know I'm not usually enticed by the savoury/meat-y side. But ohhhhhh, this all looks incredible!

  • At 8/20/2012 7:17 am, Anonymous chris said…

    Holy moly... Im not usually a massive fan of tuna but even I'm drooling at the thought of so much tuna belly. Did you get the name of the supplier?

  • At 8/20/2012 8:00 am, Anonymous john@heneedsfood said…

    What an extravaganza! I especially love the aburi and the grilled jaw. It must have smelt like a yakitori restaurant in there!

  • At 8/20/2012 9:40 am, Anonymous Vivian - vxdollface said…

    What a scrumptious meal! Absolutely adore the fatty melt-in-your mouth texture of tuna toro :D so jealous!

  • At 8/20/2012 10:26 am, Anonymous ChopinandMysaucepan said…

    Dear Helen,

    The Kama Toro sashimi must surely rank pretty high on the list of life's many pleasures.

  • At 8/20/2012 11:59 am, Blogger Jacq said…

    Wow what an epic tuna feast! The truffled tuna tartare sounds amazing!

  • At 8/20/2012 12:32 pm, Anonymous jen said…

    OMG, what a blissful feast!! The Stomachs Eleven feasts are always so impressive!

  • At 8/20/2012 2:25 pm, Anonymous Eha said…

    Thank you! I'll probably still be scrolling back and forth when the moon comes up! fantastic!!

  • At 8/20/2012 5:08 pm, Anonymous Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy said…

    I read this post with my mouth agape. What a wonderful night! I love your Stomachs Eleven posts :)

  • At 8/20/2012 5:15 pm, Anonymous Tina@foodboozeshoes said…

    So much toro!!! *swoon* Great desserts too!

  • At 8/20/2012 6:01 pm, Anonymous gaby @ lateraleating said…

    Just when I thought you couldn't do better than the previous one... bang! Amazing food! I'd have preferred lighter desserts, though.

  • At 8/20/2012 10:36 pm, Blogger Sarah said…

    Argh!! I LOVE your stomachs eleven posts! So jealous, it all looks amazing! I want to eat it ALL, including the yummy desserts (especially the rocky road ;) - good work!)

    It's funny, today at work I was thinking.. "hmm I could go for some raw tuna, perhaps tartare", and then I saw this post! Hehe.

  • At 8/21/2012 1:17 am, Anonymous daniela @ foodrecipeshq said…

    I recently read an article about bluefin tuna, the way they catch them to make them grow in confined in pools.the Japanese market is the most demanding one. I hope we will always be given the option for fish caught according sustainable Fishing standards.

  • At 8/21/2012 11:35 pm, Blogger Milktea Eats said…

    your stomach elevens dinner are always so much fodd fun and gourmet! so jealous!

  • At 8/22/2012 7:33 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Please, who is the supplier and how much?

  • At 8/26/2012 8:21 am, Anonymous SarahKate (Mi Casa-Su Casa) said…

    Fantastic!! I usually think of sushi and sashimi as a very light meal, but in that quantity I'm super impressed that you ate it all! So jealous!

  • At 8/27/2012 1:38 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Stan - The supplier was Wellstone Seafoods http://wellstoneseafoods.com.au/

  • At 9/02/2012 12:34 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Tuna jaw. Be still my heart.


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