The last time we caught up with the French Culinary Institute, Nils Noren and Dave Arnold, they were puttering around their cocktail lab, concocting high-tech, delicious booze, like Long Island Bubble Iced Tea.
Lately, they’ve been experimenting with methods to dispatch fish–the way a fish is killed and bled can make a big difference in how and when the fish goes into rigor mortis, and the resulting quality of the fish. The traditional Japanese technique is called Ike Jime, and involves severing the spinal cord at the head and tail, then shoving a metal needle down the spinal cord, and placing the fish in ice water to bleed out. Noren and Arnold got together with Sushi Zen’s Toshio Suzuki and Momofuku’s David Chang to kill fish using three methods: Ike jime, Japanese style without the needle, and Western style, in which the fish suffocates or is killed by a blow to the head. Check out the amazingly detailed two-part blog series on the fish-killing experiments here. Suffice to say, ike jime was not the “bullshit” that Chang had heard it was.
But to take this one step further, Arnold started thinking about the fact that meat from a non-stressed animal always tastes better (because stress before death leads to a harder, faster rigor mortis). So now they’re experimenting with various anesthetics to knock the fish out before performing ike jime– not exactly practical on an industrial scale, but leading to the best quality fish flesh possible. If you geek out on this kind of stuff, it’s definitely worth a read.