This was a a special treat brought to us by the lovely people at Kona Blue, a sustainable, open-ocean fish farm that raises Kampachi, a species of fish native to Hawaii. We are absolutely not fish eaters, mostly because I always botch it and turn it into a disgusting mess. So when a Kona Blue rep contacted me via my blog and offered to send me a sample of Kampachi I almost turned her down. But then I visited their website and read that it’s a sushi-grade fish, similar to yellowtail and since I never, ever, get offered free stuff, much less sushi-grade fish…well obviously I couldn’t say yes quick enough.
I and the rest of my family are totally apathetic about fish. However, we are crazy in love with good sushi and sashimi…the key word is good…defined as great, fabulous, life altering sushi with perfectly seasoned rice, cooked to its toothsome best, fresh fish (of course), and minimal other toppings. Sashimi is always either fantastically good or awful…in my mind there is just no in-between. That said, it is difficult to get good sushi in Madison. There is only one good sushi place (Sushi Muramoto) and it is expensive, naturally…because bringing fresh fish to the Midwest is a costly enterprise.
The kampachi arrived 2 days after it was harvested, in a large box securely wrapped and surrounded by ice packs. Unwrapping it brought an uncanny smell of brine and ocean into my kitchen. I admit I kept sticking my head in the box just to sniff the pacific…oh, it was divine and brought back memories of strolling through the fog on North Beach at Point Reyes. The “sample” was a whole fish filleted into two pieces and it weighed in over 2 pounds.
The rest was easy. I trimmed it up and discarded the area around the pin bones. I sliced up a round of sashimi and it disappeared down our gullets to a soundtrack of contented sighs and smacking lips. I sliced up more, and it was a repeat. I think in total we did three plates of sashimi and then I rolled up a few sushi rolls, trying my hand at an in-side out configuration that was deliciously successful. The kampachi has a high fat content that gives it a rich, buttery mouth-feel. It’s flavor is delicate, briny, and clean…pure fishy excellence.
Will I order Kampachi? I might…it is an excellent product but it’s expensive. The actual cost of my sample would have been $74…$34 for the fish and $40 for the shipping. Considering a sushi dinner for GH and I usually costs at least $150 with martinis and service I guess it’s an option. But for me, I love sitting at the sushi bar, ordering omakase, chatting with the chefs as the prepare our meal. When I’m the chef it’s not quite as much fun. But it would be the perfect thing to take to a holiday party, a platter of sushi and sashimi…that’s a party I want to go to.