When people walk into a supermarket these days and see their little packets of chicken breasts that is often as much as they want to see of where their food comes from, as if the fillets magically grow inside the plastic packets.
Most people want to ignore the fact that animals die to help feed us.
The same is true when eating in restaurants, and tuna is a great example – we eat tuna in sushi, in broths, as sashimi or pan-seared and it's becoming more popular in this country by the day. So I wanted to explore just how we end up eating some of the incredible food we see before us on our plates.
I spotted these brilliant videos of Kevin Thornton filleting a tuna and asked him if he'd share the story of the fish. Hopefully give people a little more insight into where our food comes from, how it is prepared and what being a chef is really like.
I remember working in the very same kitchen where Kevin is prepping this fish back in the late 90s. It was Conrad Gallagher's restaurant back then, and we also got a 100kg tuna.
It was so slippery and big that we had no idea how to get it upstairs into the kitchen. Each time six chefs would try to lift it the fecker would slip out of our hands and down the road. In the end we borrowed a cart from Dunnes Stores and stood him upright. For an 18-year-old chef, it was quite the experience.
Anyhow, I asked Kevin about the origins and he was able to tell me....
- It was caught approx 150kms off Beara Peninsula
- It's 115kg
- It was rod caught and part of 10% allowed quota (tuna and swordfish)
- It will be served in three ways at Thornton's – sashimi, tartare and grilled
So where the hell do you start with a fish of this size?
This is one big beast to tackle...
It takes serious skill with every piece of flesh needing to be carefully removed from the bones
The belly is the messy part
Even turning it is a big job...
Early prep work involves a huge saw
Finishing the last bit
The finished product
This is the heavy part of the prep, getting the flesh ready.
Once that's done Kevin and his team can go and let their minds run wild and get creative with the wonderful meat at their disposal. Next time you eat a dish like this you'll appreciate some of the work that went into it...
Respect For the Animal
Walk into the reception in Thornton's and you'll see a giant bronze statue of a Blue Fin tuna that the guys had created for themselves. That tells you about the respect Kevin and his team have for the animal – putting it front and centre of their restaurant like that.
Eating animals is nothing new on this planet, and although some would be shocked to see such a magnificent creature butchered up and wonder why we don't leave them in the ocean you have to respect the work happening here. Handled by a master, respected and served up tastefully.
Delicious. Respectful. Magnificent.