Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's restaurants pool together $7K to buy tuna caught in Conception Bay

One of the three bluefin tuna caught in Newfoundland's Conception Bay this week is going to be served up at restaurants in St. John's.
St. John's restaurants Mallard Cottage, Raymonds, Basho and Blue on Water all got together to buy a tuna caught in the waters of Conception Bay this week.

One of the three massive bluefin tuna caught in Newfoundland's Conception Bay this week will be served up in St. John's.

Four restaurants got together and paid about $7,000 for one of the huge fish.

It took Raymonds chef Cumin Hahn about 35 minutes to cut up the 560 lbs tuna.

Mallard Cottage, Raymonds, Basho and Blue on Water all pitched in and bought the 560-lbs tuna, caught by father-son fishers Greer Hunt and Greer Hunt Jr.

Mallard Cottage chef and owner Todd Perrin said the restaurants could not pass up the rare opportunity to get their hands on a bluefin.

"It's a local Newfoundland product and like everything else, it's a shame to see it get put in a crate and sent to Japan when we can use it here," Perrin said.

"It's good that we got folks who are interested in sharing it amongst various restaurants, and making it workable so that economically it makes sense."

The fish was one of three recently caught by the Hunts of Conception Bay South, who have the only licence to catch bluefin tuna in Conception Bay.

The family caughed one fish that weighed over 700 pounds this week, and that particular fish was sold to a buyer in Montreal.

Meanwhile, Perrin said for local restaurants like Mallard Cottage, seeing locally caught fish on the menu is a welcome sight.

"You know, there are a lot of people who say that we shouldn't be fishing bluefin at all, but there is obviously a resurgence in Conception Bay," he said.

"Twenty to 25 years ago, when I was on the tuna boats for a couple of summers with my cousins, we would go weeks without seeing one."

Delicate process to cut up such a large fish

Getting such a large tuna from Conception Bay to customers' plates in downtown St. John's is no easy process, but the chef tasked with cutting it up said it only took him about 35 minutes to do.

"The most important thing is having a sharp knife," said Raymonds chef Cumin Hahn.

"If you don't make a clean cuts, the flesh can almost rip off the bone."

Each of five St. John's restaurants will get 100 lbs of the bluefin tuna.

Hahn said the majority of Raymonds' share of the fish will be served raw, as he insists that's the best way to take advantage of the fresh flavour.

Each of the four restaurants will get about 100 pounds, with the price running about $15 per pound.

Hahn said it's exciting to be able to get his hands on such a unique product.

"This is definitely the freshest tuna we will ever get in Newfoundland," he said.

"As chefs, we're trying to gain the power to finally have the buying power to buy the fish." 

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