Mitsuwa’s Annual Giant Bluefin Tuna Cut Is a Cut Above

We here at JapanCulture•NYC are happy to welcome Pat Kinney of Leonia, New Jersey, who will be contributing stories related to New Jersey’s Japanese scene. Her first post discusses Mitsuwa’s recent bluefin tuna cut, at which five tuna were cut in the store. 

Just one weekend a year, visitors and customers to Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, NJ, line up for the store’s annual “Tuna cut performance.”

Mitsuwa Marketplace, Japanese grocery stores, Japan, NYC, bluefin tuna, Mike Jacobs

Tuna cut announcement at Mitsuwa. Photo by Pat Kinney.

On October 24 and 26 five giant bluefin were skinned and sliced, in an unforgettable display of fishermen’s knowledge and skill. Fisherman and tuna specialist Mike Jacobs provides the fish – and the thrill – at this annual event.

And Jacobs has good news for maguro lovers. Dire predictions about the scarcity of the delectable marine delicacy are “not true.” He explains that a fishing method called purse seining – stretching huge nets in the water to catch every fish that swims past – was depleting tuna in oceans worldwide.

“Rods and reels, it’s impossible,” Jacobs says, as crowds of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Latin American shoppers line up to watch the performance. Jacobs, who has visited the world-famous Tsukiji fish market in Japan, is confident there is enough maguro and toro to satisfy all.

Mitsuwa Marketplace, Japanese grocery stores, Japan, NYC, bluefin tuna, Mike Jacobs

After the cut on Sunday afternoon, the fresh sashimi sold quickly. Photo by Pat Kinney.

After crowds watched the slicing of the sashimi and the rolling of tekkamaki, they could purchase their desired “catch.” And to make the experience truly special, they could purchase fresh wasabi root . . . there is plenty of wasabi powder mix at Mitsuwa – but for this special event – for true tuna lovers, only fresh will do.

Mitsuwa Marketplace, Japanese grocery stores, Japan, NYC, bluefin tuna, Mike Jacobs

Chefs prepare sushi. Photo by Pat Kinney.

Mitsuwa Marketplace, Japanese grocery stores, Japan, NYC, bluefin tuna, Mike Jacobs

Packaged tuna after the cut. Photo by Pat Kinney.

Text and photos by Pat Kinney, who taught Japanese cooking at the Institute of Culinary Education and was a food expert for Smithsonian tours to Japan.