Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
How America’s Only Tuna Auction Is Run — Omakase

How America’s Only Tuna Auction Is Run — Omakase


– [John] Hawai’i fish can
compete with the world. It’s a wild catch. It’s Jack in the box. – The fish business is early in the morning as you can see. – United Fishing Agency has been in business since the 1950s. We are located at Pier 38 in Honolulu Harbor, in the island of Oahu, in Hawai’i. And you know these vessels, you know, they have the capacity to
carry 20 to 30,000 pounds each. It’s not saying that they’re gonna catch that
much when they go out. You know, fishing is fishing. And for an overall day, we can do anywhere from
50 to 100,000 pounds, and we’ll adjust to that, and the market will adjust to that. The target of the fishery
is the bigeye tuna. And we catch a variety
of other tunas as well. Yellowfin, albacore, skipjack. I’ve seen 300-pound bigeye tuna come in. I’ve seen 1,000-pound blue marlin. I’ve seen 500 to 600-pound swordfish. And the market has really picked up on pretty much all of these species. The fish are palletized
and they’re taken out to our auction floor, where it’s prioritized by tunas, and then the incidental catches. Size does not always equal better quality. You can’t tell just by looking at the external parts of a fish, to see if it’s gonna be great quality. That’s why we do the tail and the core cut sample on tunas. And you know that adds a variability to how we do business here. We’re on the first boat of the day. And these are the marker tunas, the tunas over 100 pounds. So, what I’m looking at right now, is 111 pound bigeye tuna. And I’m looking at a really
nice quality fish right here. There’s not that much fat. But the color content, the texture, it’s very firm. It’s something that a
lot of buyers look for. You’re looking at local sushi bars, the sashimi market, the raw fish market. But you know, this would
be close to the top, the top of the grade-chain
for most buyers. The main defects that could occur, on any fish really, is shark depredation, our false killer whale depredation. You know, these fish again
are hooked on the line and could be on that line
for any number of hours, and within that time, smaller sharks known
as cookiecutter sharks, that will take a circular
cut out of any species on the floor and it’ll leave
that disfiguration on a fish. A mako shark can up and
just take half of it off. The way that we actually work the auction, it’s up to the discretion
of the auctioneer. We have to feel out where the market is. You know, where it’s been, maybe over the course of a week. If a number one is worth between eight to ten dollars a pound, to make sure that we start the bidding, at at least that if not higher, just to make sure we don’t undervalue it. And once we start the bidding, we’ll start at 10 dollars
and if nobody bids, we’ll go to 9.90, to 9.80, 9.70 and so on, until a buyer puts his hand
out and bids on that fish, and at that point it could
be over for that product, or another buyer can
come back on top of them, and start putting the price back up, so then we’ll increase back
up ten cent increments. So we were looking at
111-pound bigeye earlier, which is a very good grade. I could really think of five or six buyers that might wanna purchase that fish. And you know, I won’t know until the moment of purchase, so. ‘Cause they know what
they’re willing to pay. We just have to figure out what that is. (cowbell rings) – The difficulties of buying fresh tuna is basically we can only
see the tail cuts and grade upon the tail cuts, and
the exterior and the color. Until you cut the fish open, and really see what’s inside, it can be very very good, or it can turn out very very bad. (auctioneer offers bids) Everybody has their own
difference in grading tunas. My number one may not be your number one. If you was to grade maybe you might another
tuna as the number one. [John] – Every day I try to hype myself up and think that I’m buying
the best for my customer. Colors and certain feels of the fish, it’s talking to you. All this in a split second, before the bid really starts on it. I’ve been a tuna buyer for 12 years. But I originated into the
tuna business by fishing. I do 98% export. It’s gonna be another day or day an a half before it gets there. So my fish has to be
even at a higher level. American people usually like what the Japanese like to call akami, which is means color. Abura, which is the fat. They are looking for – sushi
bars, are looking for fat. Each fish has a place, has a home for it. You just have to know what
the customer is looking for. Tuna alone like yesterday, I
bought I think 6,000 pounds. Today I don’t know how
much I’m gonna buy yet. I fluctuates day to day. It’s worse than the stock market. It can go all the way up
and go all the way down. – The personalities that
come with dealing with a multitude of buyers. Everyone’s friends, you know. But you know, it’s business. And. When the competition starts, you know, it can be a little heated. If the customer’s calling and
telling me he needs this fish, I cannot not get it
because of a friendship, or because of something else. I’ve gone to some strategy
moves to get some fish. You know, I’m not gonna say that I’ve been all nice about it. You have to do what you have to do to get your customers. Because if I don’t supply them. Believe, somebody else will. They’ll get angry at each other. – They’ll get angry at the auctioneer. And you know, but you
know, as an auctioneer, you have to be impartial, you have to maintain your ground, and really hold up the standards that we’re trying to set here. – You nitpick and stuff
on a daily basis here. After we walk outta
here, we can shake hands, and go each lunch and stuff. – Tuna is so special to me is because it’s the last
industry that we have out here. – We specialize in items that are a little bit hard to source. You name it, we can bring it in. So whatever comes in
today, will be out today. Two primary problems that we
find in tuna specially, right, are burn and sashi. Burn occurs when fish is
struggling on a line, right? That’s almost a kid to, making a ceviche, where the acid cooks the raw
fish a little bit, right? Right at the crown of the loins. And so that radically devalues the fish, because simply put it, it tastes like (bleep). Sashi is actually a parasite. ‘Cause as a sashi, the
individual parasite dies. Every single piece of the meat that surrounds that parasite
that it touched, also dies. And so that ruins, you know, the quality of the meat of course. It doesn’t taste good. (cheers) – This has a lighter color, because it has a higher fat content than this particular loin. This particular loin is
pretty much color only, with very little fat. So it’s a very lean fish. As you can see there’s a color change right from this ruby red
down to this lighter color. And so this is the fat
line over here, the abura. You kinda tell how fatty it is by just looking at the difference
in the color of this fish. The belly section over
here is a little lighter than the other one. One, two. Two finger fat. The special quality about
Hawaiian line caught tunas, is something that is
difficult for me to describe, because having grown up here, it’s been naturalized. And so I almost take it
for granted sometimes, that we’ll have good quality fish here. – We got a nice 18-pound bigeye here. This is a quarter loin. We get a fish through Tropic Fish, and they choose the fish at the auction, and send it to us. We prefer bigeye for the fat content. A lot of people in Hawai’i really prize of the more fattier pieces of fish, which is why ahi is usually
better in the winter time, because of the colder water. It means more fat on the fish. You can kinda just see the gradient that it runs along. This is closer to the skin inside, so there it’s where all
the fat content stays. – You know we’re a
year-round tuna fishery, raw tuna it’s kind of a
staple in Hawai’i culture. – I’ve been in the
industry for 20 years now. Little over 20 years maybe. And even after 20 plus years, I’m still learning something new daily. On a daily basis, six days a week, 5:30 every morning. It’s a daily grind. – It’s a small community. We stare across each other for 12 years, back and forth. Doing the same product but
reinventing yourself every day. – You know years ago, this
was truly God’s country.

79 comments on “How America’s Only Tuna Auction Is Run — Omakase

  1. Yellow fin. To be honest. Not taste so good. Farming blue fin is the way to go. Hope scientists will work it out.

  2. They really should be raising the fish 🐠 in a big commercial scale soon there won’t be any left in the sea over fishing will lead to no fish

  3. I wish I would have really tried an omakase somewhere in Hawaii when I went there 10 years ago. But the seafood I had there was some of the best I have ever tasted, and learned so much from a chef at a restaurant I went to about the intricacies of fish and the market.

  4. จับกันตลอดเยอะๆขนาดนี้ ปลาที่มาจากธรรมชาติเกิดทันมั้ยนี่……..น่าห่วงไม่น้อย ต่อไปต้องผสมเทียมเลี้ยงในทะเลเปิดเยอะๆ

  5. Never new sharks showed up to the tuna buffet only to take a little nibble. You learn something new every day.

  6. them oceans will soon be empty cept 4 them jellyfishs ' sea snakes and them plastic rubbish !!!!

  7. This is, by far, the best series on YT but I was utterly fascinated by that episode tonight.
    Pls don't stop the series, Eater!!!!!

  8. Yea we had an even older one in Hilo, but the feds came in an declared it unsafe. After more than 100 years the feds stated that floors needed refrigeration and it’s open air nature was illegal.

  9. I personally went to the auction once and it was fun. I stayed away from the tuna and let the professionals do there thing but I got to bid for a butterfish and a small ono. I thought 350 was $350 dollars but in the middle of the auction i learned it was $3 and 50 cents a pound. I also learned you basically cut out the middle man and save almost half the price a grocery sells at. If you need a lot of fish I’d go straight to the auction

  10. AMERICA wants to complain about eating tuna but there FAT ASS would be the first in line to eat GTFOH!!!

  11. Slightly unrelated, but I went to a cow auction last year. Really fascinating how people bid on animals. They really do their research and make sure they get every pennies worth.

  12. Absolutely false. Tuna are auctioned every day, in various harbors, at Cape Cod. I'm sure Mass. is not the only state with ocean harvest auctions. No credibility to the channel, with, false claims are made, nonetheless, any tuna is good tuna, so, there's that.

  13. So all the fish caught in america from those programmas, they ship it to hawai ?

    I dont believe that, becous that will take days.

  14. This is the beauty of capitalism. These guys get up in the wee hours of the morning to scrutinize these big fish so that we can stop in to our local sushi bar anytime we want and get great tasting sushi at a good price.

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