The Ike Jime Method
What is the Ike Jime?
The Ikejime (活 け 締 め) or Ikijime (活 き 締 め) is the most humane method of fish sacrifice that exists, and which, in turn, maintains the organoleptic qualities intact, greatly improving its color, flavor and texture. meat.
As soon as a fish is caught, many chemical processes occur that affect its flesh. The fish begins to suffer a series of nervous stimuli and secretes lactic acid in its meat that causes the fish to acquire a metallic taste and with a fall of PH accelerates the process of degradation of the meat. To avoid this, the Ike Jime was developed. As you can guess by its name, the technique is native to Japan, a country where products from the sea have a great weight in its culinary culture.What is the Ike Jime?
The first thing to be emphasized about the Ike Jime is that it is a quick sacrifice technique, it is applied as soon as the fish comes out of the water, and therefore, unlike other methods of widespread use, it generates very little suffering to the fish We are used to seeing, for example once dead, rigid tunas, with open mouth and intense reddish colors. However, the tuna slaughtered with Ike Jime lacks rigidity, its muscles are soft, they are pinkish in color and their mouths are slightly open.
Ike Jime begins with brain death by destroying the marrow throughout the neural canal. Destroying the brain and the marrow of the fish avoids the nervous stimuli and spasms typical of live fish out of water. Such spasms consume adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the muscle, and as a result they produce lactic acid, something that causes the fish to turn bitter and metallic, and in addition, the degradation process accelerates.
In the case of bluefin tuna, in all safety, if it has not been slaughtered using the Ike Jime method, its meat will look boiled and with brown tones and this situation is known as Burned Meat Syndrome, or yake, in Japanese. Precisely, the Japanese market especially appreciates the presence or absence of yake in bluefin tuna, to the point of substantially affecting the price offered for each piece. It is possible, even, that pieces remain unsold due to the presence of yake.
Next, the fish is bled, taking advantage of the fact that after brain death, the heart still beats.
Once the Ike Jime is applied, the fish is placed directly in snow water to preserve its freshness. With this technique the rigor mortis of the fish is delayed obtaining a greater time of freshness of the fish.
The technique of Ike Jime is very little used in Spain, JC Mackintosh being one of the first to give it a capital importance, key to the quality of its wild red tuna in the Strait.
Why use the Ike Jime?
For similar reasons and techniques, the slaughter of cattle is already carried out: a stunning, correct bleeding, cooling, ripening and then commercialization. Nobody eats pork or beef unripe because its taste and texture are not pleasant for the human palate. In addition to getting a better texture and flavor, this method is considered the fastest and least cruel method to kill the fish. An alternative to cutting their throats and letting the fish bleed to death, leaving them hanging for a while on the deck of a ship until they die of suffocation.
"Nobody would consent to drown a cow in the water and then eat it. It would seem very cruel to us, and yet, with the fish, it is done daily. In the fish market we do not think about it but most of the fish we consume dies in the nets or on the deck of a boat. "Andrés Médici (Osushi Restaurant).
This method of Ike Jime is handmade, it has to be done by hand one by one, so it is impossible to use it in industrial fishing. Therefore, it is considered that all fish slaughtered with this technique is of sustainable origin. Implementing the Ike Jime involves fishing in an artisanal way and an immediate work with the product, which increases the price. The Japanese are willing to pay 50% more for the fish slaughtered with this technique. Gain in flavor and you can have it on camera longer. The price is justified.
The Advantages of Ike Jime
Useful life: Depending on the species, the arrival of rigor mortis can be delayed up to 24 hours. This means increasing the useful life of the fish.
Enhanced taste: Bleeding favors the development of inosinic acid (E-630), which in the food industry is used as a flavor enhancer.
Sustainability: This system favors the small fisherman, since it gives him a tool that allows him to improve the quality and added value of his captures.
A more respectful technique with animals: In spite of what it may seem a priori, Ikejime is considered and respected as a form of sacrifice that considerably reduces suffering.