This seems an appropriate post for Aloha Friday!
One of the most exciting things that my husband and I did while home in the Islands back in 2012, was to go to the Honolulu Fish Auction. I was really looking forward to this!
I had known about it, but I had no idea that anyone could just walk in off the street not only to watch the action, but participate and purchase any fish that you like, for the right price of course. Prior to leaving to go back home to Hawaii, we had seen brochures offering day trips available through tour companies to the Auction.
We figured we knew our way around our own hometown, why pay to be led by the hand down to Pier 38 or The Honolulu Fishing Village.
We set our alarm clock for EARLY AM and gulped down very strong coffee; we were off. I wanted to get down there long before the opening bell and be able to look freely at the days catch as well as chat up the crews.
I was impressed that the Hawaii Seafood Council had representatives there, handing out printed information not only about the Auction, but also sustainability.
Only a small portion of what is caught commercially in Hawaii actually stays in Hawaii. There are many different countries buying fish and then shipping the product out.
Because of the quality and seafood safety.
I watched as a load after load were brought in from the boats and inspected, some fish had to be rejected.
I was fascinated; to be able to interact with the guys and ask a boat load (pardon the pun) of probably stupid question in their eyes.
A small catch of Tombo or Albacore Tuna didn’t sell because there was no call for this fish on the market that day; it didn’t look too nice either, not that the fish was bad, “just not worthy” as the guys put it to me.
*Please take notice as to how everyone is dressed, it’s dang cold in there!!
So the bell rings and we’re off to the races! It was nothing like I thought, it’s very subdued. There’s no yelling, no shouting, but then folks in Hawaii aren’t like that.
It was mostly nods of heads, guys throwing down their markers, slips of paper with their company or just their names on it. I was looking at some of them after the crowd moved over to the next row of fish, and who’s standing next to me? Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa.
What a nice guy!
He asks me where I’m from, if I had been to the Auction before, explaining what he was looking for in the fish that he wanted for that night’s catch of the day at his restaurant. WOW! No really, WOW! I’m just a little girl from Kaneohe who’s now living in the middle of the desert…
I had read that as the fish are prepared, a small portion is cut away so that perspective buyers can inspect the meat quality. As the group of perspective buyers moves on, behind them is a small army of worker bees. Two guys have handheld receipt type machines is the best way that I can explain it. They’re tagging each fish that was purchased with the buyer’s name, and all of the particulars, total cost, weight etc.
After them, is this nice man with a bucket, collecting those bits of tail meat.
I asked him what he was going to do with all of that; he tells me he makes Poke or Raw Fish Salad and sell it at the local markets.
No waste Braddah, right on!
Some types of fish I had never seen, other than on my plate.
Above is Opah or Moonfish. What a beautiful fish, not to mention delicious too.
Can you read the tag? 138 pounds!
That’s my shoe next to it, I wear a size 5 ½ US !!
Monsters, some of these fish.
And you know there was no fishy smell, well of course not.
These beauties are kept on ice from the time they are landed just a few short hours prior to the Auction, up until they are carted away.
It’s spotless in there too! As you walk in the door, you have to wash your shoes in a shallow trough filled with some type of disinfectant. There’s a big handwritten sign, “NO SLIPPERS” (flip flops) over the doorway. Well YEAH, it was too dang cold for those!
As one row of fish was sold, processed for the customer and taken off the floor, it was back filled by handcarts and small forklifts of more pallets of fish. We were already a couple of hours into it, and it was clear that they were no where near to being done for the day.
My husband had given up long ago and went to take a nap in the car; I hadn’t even noticed he was gone. HA!
I was starting to get cold though, so I stepped outside to watch the buyers make off with their bounty from the Sea. One local family had bought an Ahi or Big Eye Tuna for the Graduation Party they were having at their home. They invited us to join them, but we regretfully declined.
This was really a treat!
This was in my old backyard, there it was and I had never known it, because I was too busy with my own wrapped up world. There’s so much more to life, so don’t let it pass you by.
Get out there and explore your culinary backyard.
Happy Aloha Friday, Have A Great Weekend!