From Market to Table: Yellow Fin Tuna Belly

One of the more interesting items I picked up recently from Cuboa Farmers Market, was a huge slab of yellow fin tuna. Highly prized by the Japanese, most (if not all) the largest yellow fin tuna is exported directly to Japan; since the early 1970’s. It is the Philippines most profitable sea food commodity by far.

We walk through the busy fish stalls, brimming with all types seafood. But today I’m only interested in one fish : yellow fin tuna. Weaving between the throngs of shoppers, we make our way to my favorite fish monger who specializes in tuna. He knows my high standards, and takes out a fresh piece belly that will go perfect with my new daily menu. I closely examine the fat marbling of the meat. I love what I see and buy it. We carefully place the tuna belly into the portable cooler before we move onto the next stall. Keeping produce fresh in the Filipino climate is tough; so we carry our own ice chest to keep everything fresh and cool.

Next we walk to a lady selling all sorts of clams, sea-snails, whelks, and seaweed. I buy several types of seaweed that I will later be experimenting with; maybe turn it into some type of sauce? Chefs must try new things!

I finally decide on turning the seaweed into a type of mayonnaise that will boost the flavor of the tuna belly. Firstly I boil the seaweed, extracting the natural agar from the plant. After letting it cool, I blend it together with olive oil, seasoning, and an egg yolk. After the mixture is emulsified, I let harden further in the fridge. I give a it a quick taste check…. Tastes like the ocean! Very interesting flavor, this should go well with the slow cooked tuna belly confit!

Now on to the fish. After skinning the belly and cutting it into small square pieces, I place them into sue-vide bags, filled with olive oil, thyme twigs, and salt. I vacuum seal the bags, and immerse it into 80°C water bath, and slowly cook for the next 3-4 hours. It turns out very delicate, and I can smell the thyme scented oil coming from the fish. This tuna will melt in your mouth, its so tender! Check out the video below to learn how to make this yourself at home:

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