I love chu-toro (medium fatty tuna), especially at Kyubei, one of the most famous and highy revered sushi restaurants in the world. Every time I go home to Tokyo, my family and I go to Kyubei so that I can get my sushi fix. The sushi chefs that apprentice here spend at least 10 years doing prep work in the kitchen before they are even allowed to make and serve sushi at the counter. They are virtually invisible to the customers, and it’s a huge deal when they are finally able to make their debut. But of course, even then they are still considered amateurs and will not be requested by regular customers until they have made the cut.
The best chu-toro I’ve ever had is at Kyubei. It’s good every time, and never disappoints. In fact, this year’s biggest opening tuna auction at the Tsukiji fish market on January 5th was an Oma maguro tuna that sold for approximately $110,000 to Kyubei.
My love of chu toro goes back many years. 10 years ago I went under general anesthesia for a tonsillectomy at a hospital in Japan. After the surgery was over, I was taken to the recovery room. According to the anesthesiologist, when I slowly woke up from the anesthesia, I looked at him, pointed my finger up in the air towards him, and ordered “chu-toro mou icchou!” in Japanese, which means ‘one more chu-toro!’ as if at the sushi counter, then closed my eyes and went back to sleep. I have no recollection of this event, but it confirmed my undying love of this cut of tuna.
Chu-toro for me has the perfect balance of fat and meat, and is best eaten as sashimi or sushi. Kama-toro, the fatty tuna from the tuna collar, is also a wonderful delicacy. O-toro is great too, and I love it seared as aburi-toro. Akami, which is the regular red tuna meat, is best eaten as zuke, marinated for a short time in soy sauce then served as sushi. Another great part of the tuna is naka-ochi, which is the red meat attached to the bones that often needs to be scooped off with a spoon. Naka-ochi is marvelous on a simple bowl of warm white rice with wasabi and soy sauce, or even a garlic soy sauce. Which part of the tuna is your favorite?
Random trivia: Did you know that lipstick contains fish scales?