Horse Meat Sushi?

It’s been all the talk in Japan: With global fishing bodies limiting tuna catch numbers, what to do about sushi? According to an article in Aussie newspaper The Age, “Nightly news programs ran reports of how higher prices were driving top-grade tuna off supermarket shelves.”

The problem is the growing appetite for sushi and sashimi outside Japan, not only in the US but also in such newly wealthy countries as Russia, South Korea and China.

The fishing experts say the shortages and rising prices will only get worse as the population of bluefin tuna—the big, slow-maturing type most favoured in sushi—fails to keep up with worldwide demand.

(Gotta like that last line—as if it is some failure on the part of the fish!)

In Japan, home of sushi, this is cause for great concern.

‘It’s like America running out of steak,’ said Tadashi Yamagata, vice-chairman of Japan’s national union of sushi chefs. ‘Sushi without tuna just would not be sushi.’

But a shortage is a shortage, and sushi chefs are beginning to experiment with alternatives such as raw deer meat and horse meat. Raw horse meat, or basashi, is a regional delicacy in some parts of Japan but generally served sashimi style. Both are red, like tuna, and provide soft meat with little odor.

Having tasted basashi myself, I can say that it is delicious, but I have a hard time imagining it could ever take the place of toro. A horse is a horse (of course, of course), but it’s no tuna.

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