Dear fellow seafood obsessives,
I've seen some impressive seafood markets while on the road, but boy, Tusikiji Fish Market in Tokyo takes the fishcake! Remember when I said I'd died and gone to heaven when I stepped into La Boqueria in Barcelona? Well, take that, add the floor space of all of Barcelona's 39 other municipal food markets, fill it all with just seafood, and there you have Tsukiji's inner-core wholesale market. (Tsukiji market's outer ring sells other food and kitchen products). If I died here due to the stray swing of a tuna hook or axe (below), it wouldn't be a half bad way to go.
I mentioned earlier that I spent a couple of hours the other morning prowling around the early morning tuna auction. I also trailed the tuna for a bit after they got sold.
The tuna torpedos are transported to their buyers' stalls and trucks on carts of all shapes and sizes; hand-pulled if it's just one, motored around if more.
Sometimes just the one is pre-power-sawed before it gets carted off. Possible beginnings of a Damien Hirst piece?
Just imagine the fish stock you could make with this monster.
The route to breakfast at Daiwa Sushi was the ultimate edible aquarium. Here's an angry looking snow crab.
And here's some cracked open sea urchin. At Daiwa, we were served the largest sea urchin nigiri I'd ever seen. This stuff still freaks me out, admittedly, so it was quite the I-can't-fit-it-in-one-bite-but-don't-want-to-make-it-last-two dilemma.
Did you know that the seafood sold at Tsukiji comes from some 60 countries? Yes indeedy. Tsukiji's tentacles of influence spread far and wide, though in recent years seafood sales have shifted towards direct channels due to improved global telecommunication.
Pop quiz! If you combined all the squid, cuttlefish and octopus sold at Tsukiji in a day, how many tentacles in total would that be? Bonus question: If today represents a 3% drop in volume from last year, how many tentacles were sold in total last year?
Answer: I don't know, but I sure wish I got taught Math in school this way.
I also saw shellfish that must have come from Brobdingnag. Each of those mussels(?) clams(?) alien pods(?) (I have no idea, but the 2nd word of the sign reads "mountain") on the left is larger than my hand. And check out the size of those blood cockles! Almost the size of my fluttering heart.
Ugly pugly, I know, but it's just the abalone and sea snail's attempt at presuading predators that "oh no no no, I'm not delightfully sweet and crunchy and chewy at all". If you're grimacing "eeeeew gross", then their ruse has worked, and I'm as pleased as they -- more for me!
All in all, I'm happy as a clam. Wish you were here!