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Indian tuna rescues Japanese palate

Japan’s search for cheaper alternatives to the prized bluefin tuna — used in sushi and sashimi — has made it turn to the Indian yellowfin tuna, reports Namita Kohli.
Hindustan Times | By Namita Kohli, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2007 10:55 AM IST

One country's cuisine crisis is another’s opportunity. Japan’s search for cheaper alternatives to the prized bluefin tuna — used in sushi and sashimi — has made it turn to, among others, the Indian yellowfin tuna.

Santo Joseph of the Seafood Exporters Association of India, Cochin, says, “Demand for our sashimi-grade tuna, like yellowfin and skipjack, is rising from nations like Japan and Korea. Previously we were getting up to $1.1 per kg, but ever since sushi and sashimi became popular, prices have shot up to $17 per kg, depending on the grade.”

According to the New York Times, the growing popularity of sushi and sashimi, coupled with conservation concerns among global fishing bodies, is leading to a shortage, and a rise in prices of the bluefin. And that’s where the Indian yellowfin is gaining.

Hiroyuki Hashimoto, Japanese chef at Shangri La, says, “The Indian yellowfin tuna is much cheaper. So it’s being used for the supermarket version of sushi and also at cheap restaurants.” While 1 kg of the bluefin Hashimoto sources for the hotel costs about Rs 6,000, the Indian variety costs Rs 800. “Considering the overfishing, and the rising demand from the Chinese middle class, prices will only head northwards,” he says.

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