Tagged along with the Education program at Japan Society last month for a trip out to Secaucus, NJ to visit Uoriki Fresh, a company that imports fresh tuna and other fish, and distributes it all over the east and west coast (their big client is Whole Foods).
This excursion was a part of an intense 2-week program, Japanese Cuisine 101: Washoku, opened to a very limited number of high school students. They did all sorts of stuff- made soba at Sobaya, rolled sushi and learned knife skills with a chef from Megu, and much more. It was such an awesome program for these kids!
Anyway, back to Secaucus. We boarded a bus at 10am and were off to see where our sushi fish really comes from. Can't just expect to have fish right off the boat, right?
The magic is in the "superfreezer". It's essentially a freezer that goes to -72 degrees F! These fish are "superfrozen" right after they are caught and brought over from Japan, or wherever (I'm assuming that there are superfreezers on boats too). They can stay frozen for years and years and still taste and look as fresh as it was the moment before it was superfrozen, in color, texture, everything.
So Uoriki is a facility that actually has a superfreezer, on site! They say that there are only 3 in the US (2 in the east coast, one on the west), but I talked to Kunio about this and he thinks there must be more, given how raw tuna is in such high demand now. He's been to a superfreezer too, from his fish guys out in SF.
Ok, so here we go!
Where the fish is processed, cut and analyzed.
Here's something I learned- they take a slice from the tail of the tuna to analyze its fat content. The fattier the tail, the more expensive.
Where all the fish's information is kept. Origin, weight, value, etc.
Boxes of tuna waiting to be shipped off.
And in through the plastic curtains to the superfreezer.
Here's a little video I took of the kids' reactions. Negative 72 degrees is no joke- it's motherfucking COLD!:
In the superfreezer, which holds up to 50,000 tons!
Refrigeration technology is so crazy these days- is this what they do to women's ovaries?? Remember Tmonkey's post live from Tsukiji? I'm guessing that those tunas being auctioned off were already superfrozen.
There was a tuna, salmon and hamachi tasting afterwards for everyone.
Thanks to Kazuko, Rob and Ariana for letting me be a part of this special day!
Top picture of Freezer aka Frieza, or Fureeza, from Dragon Ball Z. Remember him?