At this year’s 30th Annual Mutual Trading Japanese Food & Restaurant Expo, drawing a crowd of anxious onlookers at the central seminar stage, was the whole bluefin tuna carving demonstration by Chef Katsuya Uechi, chef-owner of Katsuya Group Restaurants. The job at hand was a 200-pound bluefin tuna flown in from Oita Prefecture. Viewers drew in close as seasoned Chef Katsuya yielded specialized tools including the long Katana sword-like Maguro carving knife, to deconstruct the whole tuna into fillet sections, a feat not many chefs have an opportunity to challenge these days.
As Washoku expands in popularity, the demand for seafood is escalating in multiple aspects: in volume, quality, safety assurances, pricing, customized variety of cuts, and reliable availability. Foreseeing these challenges 15 years ago, Mutual Trading explored the super-frozen seafood category which was still in its early stage of development in the US. With the construction of the first commercial super-freezer warehouse on the West Coast, Mutual Trading's Ultra Low Temperature Seafood branded super frozen products, or simply ULTS, was launched in 2003.
ULTS, by quickly freezing just-caught seafood to deep-arctic temperatures of minus -75 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius), individual cells can remain intact compared to conventional freezing reaching only -4 degrees F (-20 degrees C), with cell membranes bursting to cause flavor loss through a drip. While Tsukiji-sourced air-shipped fresh fish can take 3 ~ 4 days to arrive at a West Coast kitchen, ULTS is “hours old” as their live cells stop deteriorating upon reaching the super-frozen stage, to be defrosted later and returning back to its original “just caught” fresh state. Thus the name: “Fresher than Fresh”
THE “FRESHER THAN FRESH” ULTS BENEFITS:
- Seafood harvested at the peak of the season can be enjoyed at its “Very Peak”, any time
- Short-lived seasonal seafood available fresh only in Japan can be enjoyed here, fresh
- Less drip when defrosted, therefore little flavor and color loss
- Inhibits individual cell corrosion, therefore is high quality
- Suppressed bacterial growth, therefore cleaner and safer ingredients
- Prices are relatively stable, not affected by daily “market price” fluctuations