Street Team Reports: Toro — The Priciest Fish in the World


In episode 181, we talked about bluefin tuna, in particular, two instances in Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market that were sold at high prices in 2009 and 2012.

One was around 282 lbs and sold for $104,700 (±$371/lb) in 2009 and the other 593 lbs and sold for $724,000 (±$1,220/lb). Ray, Lea, and I talked about how good could it really be and was it worth that much money. Street Team Steven McDowall, who is our go-to reporter for all things Asian cuisine did a little breakdown on the history of bluefin tuna. From Steven:

Why is Bluefin (large) Tuna so expensive — especially in Japan??   A few things.

1 — Pure supply and demand play a large part. Supply is very very limited — it’s an endangered species after all. It also takes a lot of handling in Japan (extra steps) and to get it to Japan in pure form. Also, the “Toro” part (which consists of Otoro and Chutoro) makes up only 0.5% – 1% of the whole fish!!!

2 – -Obsession. The Japanese are obsessed (and hence, so is everyone else who likes “Sushi”) about Otoro — THE most prized piece of fish in the world for Sashimi (and Sushi). Otoro is the belly fat of only bluefin tunas. The other part of the underbelly is called ‘Chutoro’ and is also quite prized but not as rare or “good.” So, they are buying this giant fish to get mostly all the extra underbelly part. and the larger the fish, the more you get and since it’s not used to move the fish (and they are cold weather), the big fish have as good or better quality and certainly more!

3 — Japanese Tastes. The is sort of an “Ego” thing about rich Japanese about buying very expensive bluefin’s to “brag.”

I’ve had a small bit of Otoro and Chutoro in Japan and in San Francisco. They tasted the same to me… very mild and unctuous. I had it in Sashimi (i.e. naked). Like 3 slivers in Japan for like $150 and in San Francisco, a nicer 2oz for like $100. Luckily I wasn’t paying :)

Oh! The most expensive fish ever was a 650lb bluefin which sold for $2,3M! Yes, in the same market in Japan. So $3500 / lb!

Thank you Street Team Steven for your always welcome knowledge of the world’s cuisines!

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