Chilenean Sea bass
It keeps things exciting when the boss wants me to cook something special. "You really have to try this fish“, he told me already at breakfast. I was ordered to drive in the evening with the private driver to a Japanese restaurant to try a fish. Chilean sea bass, Japanese stylish cooked in sweet ginger-miso sauce. Really nice, fatty, tense white fish meat, reminds me on halibut and monk fish at the same time, but a little bit oilier. I was surprised, cause I didn´t know this wonderful fish.
As I read more about its exciting story, the 'guy' became of course more interesting for me, although its a although it´s a conflictive story which can cause devided views.
Initially, in the seventies, when the Patagonian toothfish still knew hardly anyone, things looked very different. The 200-mile zones established themselves only gradually, the oceans were still open on all sides fishing grounds. And in the better restaurants in the United States came in a peculiar fashion: The menus no longer designated the food, but gave lengthy information about the ingredients, their origin, nature, and more. Insatiable therefore was the hunger of the chefs on constantly new and unknown ingredients.
So a fish from Chilean fishing ports found its way into some gourmet temple between Los Angeles and New York. First you couldn´t do much with it. Its meat is greasy, white. No persevering, good circulation hunter, but rather a relaxed fish, which waits cozy behind a cliff in the ocean for prey and strikes with a quick hit. It did not even have a name. First it got called "Chilean sea bass" , but that should change. It was a particularity as simple as that.
But then the great chefs learned to refine the fish to a delicacy. Demand increased. Biologists started to call it black toothfish. But it was a rare fish - and was becoming increasingly rare. Soon official dealers and cooks realized, that the fish were becoming less and less and they became smaller, conservationists raised alarm. The official fishing quotas were increasingly restricted, well-known chefs in the US agreed to not processing Patagonian toothfish no more.
But what has not been served in New York, it was now served in Las Vegas and elsewhere, the fish became a secret tip, the more expensive the better. 80 to 100 euros you pay now for a portion of Patagonian toothfish, with a 60 percent probability of illegal fishing. Estimated up to 200 million euros profit per year the 'Pirate Fisherman`make of the rare Chilenean sea bass.
The fisherman became even more cleverer to wipe traces by the capture and the hunting and by wiping traces of their activities. Cross-stepping, false declaring, bribing; Ship, truck, train, ship again, pike becomes perch and is still quite different stuff is going on. The fish Mafia live well, the payoff is popular.
Some more details:
The name "Chilean Seabass" was invented by a fish wholesaler named Lee Lantz in 1977
Patagonian toothfish spawn in deep water (around 1,000m) during the Australian winter
The average weight of a commercially caught Patagonian toothfish is 7–10 kg