As the season is winding down, we decided to try something new this winter. Coho will be open for dinner Thursday through Saturday, and will open on Wednesday for lunch featuring sushi rolls and ramen noodles! Many of our patrons have been asking us to do sushi ever since we opened. The whole idea was inspired by this wonderful sashimi-grade albacore tuna we’ve been getting from High Seas Tuna.
High Seas is a small, family-run operation that has been in the fishing business since 1961. They are an island family that operates four fishing vessels based in Anacortes, but they fish albacore in the warm waters of the Pacific. We like their use of sustainable fishing methods: troll caught with little barb-less hooks on jigs. For us non-fishermen, that means they’re fishing on the surface of the water – no long lines, no purse seines to catch up anything and everything; only albacore chase the gigs. Fishing on the surface also means you catch young fish, as the older fish tend to swim deeper. These young 15-20 pound fish are more tender, higher in omega 3 fatty acid, and contain only trace amounts of mercury because they haven’t had the build-up through years of eating mercury-laden fish. As with meats, the flavor of younger fish is quite mild – perfect for sashimi and sushi.
One of the other factors contributing to their high-quality product is the method of freezing; as soon as the fish is caught, it is immediately put in the blast freezer in the boat hold, reaching minus 45°F within 5 minutes.
High Seas Tuna uses a processing facility in Nanaimo, B.C. The larger fish are loined out and sent to the sashimi and sushi markets, while the smaller ones go into cans. Even here, there’s a striking difference. Your typical can of tuna packed in oil or water contains meat from huge, old fish that have been pre-cooked then cooked again in the canning process. Cans from High Seas Tuna have only young, tender meat that is cooked solely during the canning process with no additives, just a bit of seasoning. Independent lab tests verify the mineral contents, and confirm the claim of low mercury and high selenium, which is a natural combatant of mercury.
Besides using the loins in sushi, Chef Alphonsine marinates and poaches them with sake and serves them sashimi style with a sesame ginger rice cake, wilted greens and a sliced Japanese omelet, along with wasabi and pickled ginger. Being such a young fish, it’s too delicate to grill, but is lovely with a quick pan sear and tossed with pasta. Chef Alphonsine uses the canned tuna in a salad niçoise or on crostini as an amuse bouche. We also use the canned tuna for Coho’s box lunches.
If you’re a sushi fan, plan your visit this fall to include a Wednesday to join us for sushi lunch – it’s the freshest available on the island!