Skipped step in the food prep process leaves fish looking shockingly alive.
In Japan, fish are commonly prepared for consumption through a method called ikejime. In simple terms, a spike is inserted into the fish’s brain, and if done correctly brain death is instantaneous, and by extension essentially painless.
Ikejime is also much quicker than alternative methods such as cutting the fish’s throat and leaving it to bleed out, which allows the chef or fish monger to get right to work cutting the fish’s nerve connections, draining it of blood, and filleting it for its meat. It’s important to thoroughly follow all the steps, too, because trying to skip some of them could result in a scene like the one that unfolds in this shocking video from Japanese Twitter user Yutaka Suzuki.
鈴木豊 Yutaka Suzuki (@Q57OUPrpy8OZaWt) July 05, 2017
In the video, the body of a fish, sliced in half and with its head removed, can be seen vigorously thrashing around in a tray, in either a fish market or restaurant, for nearly two solid minutes (and it’s already moving when the video starts). While the tray isn’t labelled, the voice of the woman heard most prominently in the video says that it’s buri, or yellowtail tuna.
“This fish’s life force is amazing,” tweeted Suzuki along with the video. But while this may be a testament to ichthyic physical vitality, it’s probably not the best way to get a tasty cut of fish.
上田 魁士 (@9gA82aBPNLSqtTW) July 05, 2017
As pointed out by Twitter user Kaishi Ueda, the fish’s nerves haven’t been properly rendered inactive, and all that thrashing is going to bruise the fish, damaging both its flavor and texture. With the body no longer connected to a brain, it’s unlikely there’s any pain being felt, but Ueda still asserts it’d be much better to perform the proper ikejime steps in their entirety, and thus preclude the dramatic postmortem performance.