Tuna Talk: Color and Freshness

Blackened Ahi Poke

In October of 2004, an article came out in the New York times described how much of today’s tuna is treated…with carbon monoxide.  It was a really informative article and began to spread awareness of these industry practices.

Buyers seeking the freshest tuna often use color as a determination of freshness, but unfortunately, color is not the best metric.

Because tuna is such a popular product not only here, but in the mainland and beyond, the industry had to devise ways for tuna to maintain its fresh appearance even after many days out the water.  The preferred way is carbon monoxide treatment, which prevents the flesh from discoloring though does nothing to maintain its quality.

The fact of the matter: if a fish has been out of the water for 30 days, it’s not going to taste like fish that was just taken off the auction block.

At the Poke Stop Restaurants and Chef Elmer Guzman’s Island Cuisine, we bring fish in daily, with 6 days of delivery every week.  We purchase our fish from Diamondhead Seafood Supplies, a distributor who brings our fresh fish in straight from the auction block.

We store our fish in a 40 degree Fahrenheit refrigerator to maintain maximum freshness.

There is another critical thing related to preparation that we do to make sure our poke retains that auction block freshness. When you cut fish, you need to put it in a container that includes a strainer which allows the excess fluids to continue to drain from the fish.  If you keep fish in a container that does not drain these fluids, it breaks down the fish and you start to lose some of its essential nutrients. Of course, taste is compromised as well and this is when fish takes on that fishy smell.

That’s why you’ll often see fish being kept on ice.  Ice has a great drainage system.

Stay tuned for more “Tuna Talk” in the weeks to come!


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