If you’re lucky enough to live close to a good Japanese market or a good fish monger, then occasionally you’ll find a beautiful cut of chūtoro, or medium-fatty tuna. This cut comes from the center of the belly of a bluefin tuna.
Chūtoro is my favorite cut of sashimi-grade tuna because of its incredible texture. Otoro (from the belly of the fish further towards the head) literally melts in your mouth and is delicious, however, because it is so high in fat, it lacks the slight bite of it’s little brother (and is more expensive and hard to find).
Akami is the leaner, darker red meat from the dorsal side of the fish. It’s the most common type of cut used in sushi and sashimi. When using cuts of akami in a preparation like this (which I still recommend), look for those with minimal amounts of the white connective tissue, and then just marinate for slightly longer.
This is what a 4-5 oz portion of chūtoro looks like (beware, food porn below) when properly butchered. It’s perfect for 1/4 inch slices for sashimi, dressed quickly and lightly in soy and lime juice.
- 1 4 ounce trimmed filet of chūtoro (medium-fatty tuna)
- 1 TBSP usukuchi shoyu (light soy sauce)
- 1 tsp juice from half a lime
- Paper thin slices of serrano pepper for garnish
- Combine usukuchi and lime juice in a small container. Thinly slice serrano and set aside.
- Slice chūtoro:
- Start with the handle-end of the longest, sharpest chefs knife you have at 45 degrees relative to the filet, about 1/4 inch from the left end (if you’re right handed), stabilizing the left end of the filet with your off hand.
- In one slicing motion, bring the knife down and towards you, while simultaneously rotating the blade perpendicular to the board to finish the cut.
- This yields a clean, slightly concave cut of sashimi devoid of cutting marks (when you’re paying $30 for a little piece of fish, you may as well make them look nice).
- Practice this technique on cheaper akami cuts of tuna (often just labeled Maguro in the store) or on different types of fishies.
- Lightly coat each slice of chūtoro individually in soy/lime mixture, turning once with chopsticks or some badass kitchen tweezers, letting marinate for about 1 second per side, then plate. Top with sliced serrano.
- For akami, I will just toss multiple pieces in the soy/lime mixture and let sit for more like 15 seconds.