The Gadira fishery near Cadiz, which supplies the chef José Pizarro, can process 100 tunas an hour and freeze 40 tonnes a day until its quota has been fulfilled. It is selective about which fish are killed — the argument is that this is as close to sustainable as wild fishing can be.
The tuna forms part of a seven-course menu at Pizarro that uses almost every part of the fish, from the head to the tail via the belly and the heart. “The only parts we don’t eat are the liver and the skin,” Pizarro tells me. We start with his favourite, the roe (both dark and white), pressed and salt cured, before moving on to tuna tartare, served on a brioche with a fermented chilli and onion sauce, and raw cubes of fatty belly with Marcona almonds and a slick of olive oil to enhance the butteriness. Wafer-thin slices of air-dried mojama, or loin, amply demonstrate why it is known as “the ham of the sea”.
But this is just a preamble to the main event, the cooked dishes, which take us away from the sushi template. A tuna stew combines sweet onion and PX sherry vinegar with diced mormo, a cut from the top of the head, to create a rustic but luxurious dish. Costillas — grilled ribs marinated in garlic, parsley and white wine — make clear just how meaty the bluefin can be. “It’s the way my mother traditionally cooks pork,” Pizarro explains.