Me and the Kona Blue folks
Aquaculture gets a bad rap, and sometimes for good reason—there’s a lot of sloppy practices out there—but when many fish are becoming commercially depleted to the point of extinction, aquaculture needs to get more consideration. That’s why I was especially intrigued about Kona Blue’s Kona Kampachi®, who’s well-deserved slogans include: “Good for the Ocean. Good for You.” and “Sustainably Delicious.” I’d add: “Kobe beef of the ocean,” based on the care and effort that Kona Blue puts into the kampachi.
I met the Kona Blue reps—including Neil, the president and co-founder—at Farallon the other night to sample the fish and learn more about the company. As an environmentalist and health nut, I was brimming with tons of issues—water quality concerns, nutrient value and sustainability, for instance—and was pleasantly shocked by their thoughtful responses. These guys had definitely done their homework (no surprise as Neil’s a published marine biologist). In fact, Kona Blue’s working closely with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) and various environmental NGOs to set standards for responsible aquaculture.
The fish is raised as eco-friendly as possible, combining state-of-the-art hatchery science and a deep-ocean site off the coast of Hawaii’s Big Island—which satisfies an eco-friendly ethic. And the fish has no detectable mercury as well as boasts one of the highest amounts of omega 3s—which means it’s heart healthy.
Kona Kampachi sashimi with persimmon chutney
How does the fish taste? Buttery and smooth with a firm bite. At Farallon, chef de cuisine Ryan Simas prepped the fish four ways—sashimi style with a persimmon chutney, as a tartare with Meyer lemon and avocado, poached in olive oil with hearts of palm and watermelon radish, and seared with potatoes and Himalayan truffles. Then, as luck would have it, I went to Slanted Door last night and had it crudo-style with fried shallots and Thai basil.
Olive oil poached Lightly seared
Lots of top chefs are incorporating Kona Kampachi into the menu. Try it at Bar Crudo, Fifth Floor, Ozumo, La Folie, Koo and Cyrus—or at Farallon and Slanted Door—among others.
If you want to see the farm in action, check out this video.