For too long, The Gulf coast, with all its bounty, has been considered little more than a workhorse. True, the Gulf is one of the more productive fisheries in the world. It is also home to roughly ten percent of the known marine fish species in the world, and with about 1,500 species, the Gulf is more biodiverse than the Mediterranean Sea. Our seasonal weather helps to make the Gulf home to both tropical and temperate species, a most unusual and fortunate situation. It is time to re-think the Gulf of Mexico. In doing so, it only seems logical to work to produce fish of truly worldclass quality, fish that demonstrate what Gulf fisheries really have to offer. Louisiana Foods is working with a few captains on the Texas Gulf to produce this superior grade of fish. These captains have collectively spent more than one hundred years fishing the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, and are now using their expertise to produce the highest-quality fish ever to come out of the Gulf. We call this grade of fish “IKE JIME” (ee-KAY jee-may).
Ike jime is the Japanese name for the process used to produce sashimi-grade fish. Our IKE JIME fish is produced using the same process. Only certain species of fish, processed according to strict standards, may be rated ‘IKE JIME’. This grade is only produced in small quantities, so that each and every fish may be given individual attention
Fish will be graded as IKE JIME only if the following criteria are met:
• Immediately upon landing, the fish are rendered senseless and exsanguinated (bled out). This is accomplished in one of two ways:
• For smaller species, the spinal cord and main arteries are severed in two places - just behind the gills and at the tail on the caudal peduncle.
• Larger fish (scombrids, for example) are spiked through the brain, and then bled out like smaller fish.
• A quick, low-stress slaughter is essential to maintain quality.
• After bleeding, the fish are placed in an ice slurry (one part seawater/three parts freshwater). The slurry draws out blood and rapidly lowers the temperature of the fish to almost 32 degrees, preserving the flesh. The slurry process takes between 30 minutes to one hour.
• With the exception of fish that are unloaded headed and gutted, IKE JIME fish are not gutted.
• IKE JIME fish are kept segregated from normal catch in order to maintain peak quality.
• After processing, IKE JIME fish are soldier-stacked in flaked ice with no one fish touching another, in layers no more than two deep.
• Only fish caught within the last 24 hours of fishing are IKE JIME processed. This ensures that the fish is still pristine when it arrives to our customers.
Why IKE JIME?
Traditionally in most fisheries, after a fish has been landed, it is left to die by asphyxiation, before being gutted and chilled. Though the flesh may still be of high quality, it is damaged somewhat by the method of slaughter because the fish rapidly enters rigor mortis, which may cause tearing of the flesh. The texture and taste are also affected, as the meat may have a softer feel to the tooth, and possibly a stronger “fish” taste due to a build-up of lactic acid and other secretions as a result of stress in death.
The IKE JIME method, on the other hand, ensures that death is quick and relatively stress-free. The fish enters rigor mortis slower, as much as 24 hours later. The rigor is less extreme as well, so the flesh does not tend to tear away from bone and connective tissue. The texture also is improved, being almost “crispy” yet still supple. The taste is more refined, with complex notes rather than an overwhelming taste of straight fish.
With the exception of pelagic species, IKE JIME fish are sold in the round. Cutting fish for raw or marinated applications requires a deal of precision, and gutting scars render large parts of the belly and throat (some of the most desirable parts) useless. Also, fish in the round, when properly handled from hook to dock to restaurant, produce a far superior grade of flesh. As the abdominal cavity has remained intact, no air or water has been able to rich the blood-rich areas of the cavity (especially the kidneys, which are often mistaken for blood vessels). Tissue begins to break down much quicker when exposed to air and water, so keeping guts in actually improves quality, if only over the short term. And finally, one undeniable indicator of quality is the look and smell of the guts. When one guts a very fresh-dead fish, the guts will have a salty, organ-like smell, and that is all. Also, the guts will be firm and bright colored.
The following is a partial list of IKE JIME fish. Please note that no species is available every day, and availability of IKE JIME fish in general is subject to weather, legal seasons and fishing patterns.
|african pompano (Alectis crinitus)||knobbed bream (Calamus nodosus)||searobin (Prionotus tribulu)|
|snappers (lutjanidae spp.)||lane snapper (Lutjanus synagris)||silver bream (Calamus leucosteus)|
|butterfish (Peprilus burti)||longtail bass (Hemanthias leptus)||squirrelfish (Holocentrus adscensionis)|
|bigeye (Priacanthus arenatus)||mango snapper (Lutjanus griseus)||guaguanche (Sphyraena guachancho)|
|black jack (Caranx lugubris)||triggerfish (balistids)||cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)|
|bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix)||opah (Lampris regius)||spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber)|
|bonito (sarda sarda)||pink bream (Pagrus pagrus)||shrimp (Peneaus spp.)|
|escolar (Lepidocybium flavobrunneum)||pompano dolphin (Corypheana equiselis)||parrotfish (Scarus spp.)|
|grey tilefish (Caulolatilus chrysops)||queen snapper (Etelis oculatus)||whiting (Menticirrhus spp.)|
|sand tilefish (Malacanthus plumieri)||rosebud (Paranthias furcifer)||barrelfish (Hyperoglyphe bythites)|
|grey triggerfish (Balistes capriscus)||sand perch (Diplectrum formosum)||crawfish (Procambarus spp.)|
|grunt (haemulon spp)||thread herring (Opisthonema oglinum)|
|hake (Urophycis cirrata)||scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri)|