The right way to kill a fish
This is the most humane way to kill a fish. Stabbing it in the brain, and cutting it opento bleed out. I know, it looks gruesome, but trust me, it’sbetter than the alternative for the fish,and for you. Most fish are killed the same way: Scoopedout of the water, thrown in a bucket of ice,and left to suffocate to death. Their brains are really different from ours— which makes it hard to figure out if andhow they feel pain. Studies are conclusive on one thing, though:fish do feel stress — and try to fight orflee stressful situations. It can take anywhere from five minutes toa few hours of struggling in the open airbefore a fish finally dies. And while they’re trying to escape, theirbloodstreams fill with stress hormones, likecortisol and adrenaline. Plus, all that movement causes lactic acidto flood their muscles — the same chemicalhumans produce when we exercise. When a fish is struggling to death it’s actuallyexercising when it’s suffocating. This is Andrew Tsui, an attorney and formercommercial fisherman whose real passion isteaching people how to properly kill fish. That lactic acid buildup in the muscle tissueactually has real consequences for it at acellular level. These chemicals speed up the breakdown ofmuscle and fat, which causes the fish to loseits inherent rich flavor and adopt a bitter,mushy taste. They make fish rot quickly,And develop that unpleasant ‘fishy’ smell. Since most fish are killed this way, it’sprobably all you’ve ever tasted. But there’s a better way. Ike jime is a traditional Japanese methodfor killing fish. It’s a four-step process, and accordingto Andrew, it basically translates to “brain spike. “He’ll show you why with this live Marylandstriped bass from the Chesapeake Bay:So the first step is to actually make surethat this fish doesn’t experience any stress. We’re gonna kill this fish by placing a spikeinto its brain. You know that you’ve actually hit its brainwhen that fish seizes like this. Its dorsal and the rest of its fins flareand its mouth will flare. Once it’s spiked the fish is brain dead,meaning it can’t experience any more stress— but it’s heart is still beating fromcellular energy reserves. Because its heart is still bleeding we’regonna use the residual blood pressure to,to pump out and bleed the fishThis is also known as exsanguination. So the process of exsanguinating a fish isthree cuts. The first cut is at the gill arches on bothsides. And then the third cut is at the artery inthe tail. Removing the blood means the fish rots slower. At this point, even though the fish is braindead,the nervous system can still cause involuntarymuscle movement — which adds to that unsavorylactic acid buildup. The next step shuts that down. One of the more gruesome parts of ike jimeis the spinal cord destruction and the necessityof it sort of varies by species. But essentially what the objective is, isto cease any further signaling between thecentral nervous system and the muscle tissue. And that takes place in the spinal cord. One of the ways that that is achievable isby sending a metal pith. Through the spinal cord of the fish. Last but not least, the fish goes into a bathof ice water. We use a one to one ice to water ratio tocreate a slurry and then submerge the fishfully and in the slurry. In there, the muscles cool down and the fishfinishes bleeding out. When you take a look inside a fish, you canreally see the difference using ike jime makes. Both of these fish were caught earlier thisday. One was killed using the standard method — suffocation— and one was killed using the ike jime method. When Andrew opened them up, they looked relativelythe same — but you can see that the suffocatedone is filled with a lot of blood, the stuffthat causes quick decomposition. We did a taste test, and. . . They honestly taste pretty similar. It tastes fresh. There’s not like an overwhelming flavor toit. It’s a few days later when things startto change:FDA guidelines recommend cooking and eatingrefrigerated fish within two days,but since ike jime slows rotting immensely,the fish is good for much longer, which meansits able to develop more complex flavors,similar to the way red meat tastes betterwhen it’s aged. This fish was purchased whole from the grocerystore, killed using the standard suffocation method. It’s a couple of days old. And this one was killed using the ike jimemethod — it’s been sitting in the fridgeat 33 degrees for two whole weeks. When we opened both of them up, the suffocatedone had a distinct fishy aroma. Wow, yeah, I can really smell it now. It smells so metally, and gross. Oh my god!Its insides had blood running through them,and were starting to break apart, providingmore space for bacteria to grow. The aged ike jime fish, on the other hand,had barely any scent. It tasted different too:This is the one I’m nervous about. This is the one from the store that’s a coupledays old. Oh my God. It’s not great. I’ll be honest with you. It’s a little sour. OK so this is supposed to be the primo fish. The one that was has been aging for two weeksafter being killed with the ike jime method. You can tell underneath it there’s just likethis hint of complexityAnd once we added a bit of salt to bring thatflavor out:Oh my God, that is so good. I don’t even know what it tastes like, butit’s delicious. So it tastes so much better and lasts muchlonger, why aren’t fish killed using theike jime method?The answer is simple: Cost. It’s almost impossible to scale ike jimeon commercial ship decks and fish farms,Where it’s just cheaper and easier to defaultto asphyxiation. For now, there is one particular market forfish killed using the ike jime method: high-endrestaurants, especially ones serving sushi. Like La Marine in France,Or Providence in LA. These restaurants pay a lot of money for ike jime fish from Japan, its primary exporter. But elsewhere in the world, fishers are sittingon an untapped market. If they used the ike jime method, they couldsell their fish for a lot more money. Anyone if given the opportunity to look attwo filets side by side or two fish side byside will immediately immediately notice thesedistinctions suddenly, it’s just that thatopportunity doesn’t really come around veryoften. I like to to think that Ike Jime is actuallyabout intellectual integrity. So the integrity of the fish, the integrityof sort of what we’re really doing here, whichis ultimately creating something to eat. Making a smarter choice in the food system can help us feel good about our decisions. And making the smarter choice for mobile can, too. Ting is a cellular service provider that only charges you for the data you actually use,not a flat monthly bill. 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