Ingredient of the Year 2013

Famed for its firm, tasty flesh and luxurious oils, nutrient-dense Wild Pacific Albacore is prized by Ocean Wise chefs as both an ecologically responsible choice and a versatile product. “Albacore is a perfect story on all levels,” says Yew chef Ned Bell. “It’s local, sustainable, and exceptionally rich.” Bell showcases the fish’s adaptability by featuring it both raw and cooked, pairing it with global partners like tofu-avocado silk and sesame-lime honey. Chris Whittaker of Forage sources from local suppliers like 7Seas and balances confident technique with playful flavours: cold-smoked albacore is brightened by a blackberry-fir jelly, while a seared fillet adds warmth to a crisp apple-bacon salad. Even simple sashimi gets the royal treatment from Miku‘s chef Kazuya Matsuoka, whose house-specialty flame-searing heightens the buttery texture of the fish with a sizzling, smoky char. But tuna’s modest beginnings are not forgotten by Bell, who’s developed a sustainable line of canned albacore with Organic Ocean’s Steve Johansen. “We don’t add anything during canning,” says Bell. “What you get is the pure essence of tuna in its natural state.” The canned albacore stars in Yew’s must-order tuna melt, a throwback to the ’50s with a modern makeover using smoked cheddar, chili mayo, and asiago bread.