Thursday, July 17, 2008

toro!


An interesting little side article in the Wall Street Journal today- the average price of two pieces of toro sushi around the world. In case you've been living in seclusion somewhere and have no idea what toro is, first let me preface the description by mentioning that toro means "to melt" in Japanese. And that is precisely what this cut of meat aims to do, in your mouth. Toro refers to the fatty belly portion from the bluefin tuna. Depending on the degree of fat marbling through the flesh, sushi chefs will grade toro into 2 categories: chu-toro and o-toro.

Chu-toro is only moderately fatty, and is the more affordable of the fatty cuts of tuna. It is light pink, and the marbling resembles webbing throughout the flesh. O-toro is the fattiest part of the belly, and on a cross-sectional cut, looks almost like a light pink bacon, with it's heavy striped marbling runny along strips of flesh. (Looks like a candy cane.) Because of the highly prized degree of fat, o-toro can really tear a hole in your wallet at good sushi restaurants.

pure fatty delight: o-toro

I've not been fortunate enough to have tasted o-toro, but by the looks of it, I'd have to pay about $20 for 2 pieces in New York. If I jet-setted over to Singapore, I'd have to fork over $35, but the ultimate deal would be dining in Manila, where 2 pieces cost a mere $8! What a steal!

An interesting fact about tuna fat and why, from a physiological standpoint, it's so special. Tuna fat is not at all like the fat on nearly all other fish, which tends to be concentrated only in one area of the body. Instead, tuna fat marbles the whole section of the tuna where it's found. Chu-toro, for instance, is a whole layer of fat-marbled flesh that wraps around the inner musculature of the body, twice. Because of this, tuna have the unique ability to raise their body temperature up to 18 degrees above the temperature of the water around them. And because of this structural quality, toro tastes oh-so-wonderful...

toro image from visualhistory.blogspot.com

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