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Balfegó: the best red tuna in the world

Balfegó: the best red tuna in the world

Balfegó © ffmag

Our heading might seem like an exaggeration, especially if you’ve never been lucky enough to try this marine delicacy – but it’s true.  So true, in fact, that the company, based in L’Ametlla de Mar (Tarragona), has become the world leader in fishing, feeding, studying and selling red tuna thanks to its innovative, environmentally-friendly and sustainable business model.

It’s achieved this position for several reasons: firstly, because Balfegó is an international pioneer in the use of sustainable fishing techniques that guarantee the prevalence of the species by only capturing the largest sized and oldest tuna. Secondly, the Tarragona-based company is also a world leader in research and development, which has enabled it to implement processes that were previously unthinkable in the fishing industry, such as total traceability of the tuna from its capture to the moment it’s served at the table. 

 

Sustainability

Rather than directly fish the tuna, Balfegó encircles them when they come to lay eggs in the Mediterranean between April and May. The animals, which have travelled hundreds of thousands of nautical miles across the Atlantic, are starving and have lost much of their body weight. Balfegó’s boats encircle the fish and slowly guide them into its seawater facilities off the coast of L’Ametlla de Mar. The company only chooses the largest and oldest fish, releasing younger specimens and fry so that the species continues to reproduce naturally.

Balfegó bluefin tuna enclosure

 

Traceability

Once inside the company’s vast seawater pools, the tuna are each individually identified with a code that contains extensive information about the fish, such as when it was captured, its veterinary checks, by how many kilos its weight has increased, etc. When the piece reaches the end client, they are given a QR code with all of this information plus details about when it was slaughtered, how much it weighed and even the marbling percentage.

 

Excellence

Balfegó tuna are anisakis free because their diet is based on blue fish and they undergo thorough veterinary checks. Regular blood tests also ensure that mercury levels in their blood are below the established minimum values. What’s more, numerous scientific studies show that selenium has a protective or neutralising effect against mercury consumption, such as “Study of the protective effects of selenium” by Dr Nicholas Ralston and Dr John Kaneko at the University of North Dakota.

In addition, fish are exclusively slaughtered to meet demand using the ancestral Japanese Ikejime technique which, due to its speed, prevents the animal from suffering and avoids stress-induced anoxia so that the meat retains its full organoleptic qualities. The tuna meat is sent to every corner of the planet by air, guaranteeing an exceptionally fresh product in the kitchens of the most prestigious chefs in Spain and the world who have chosen Balfegó as their supplier. Suffice to say that renowned chef Martín Berasategui, one of the chefs to have won the most culinary awards in the world, is Balfegó’s food ambassador.

Balfegó bluefin tuna fishing

 

Naturally healthy

Eating red tuna has many health benefits because it contains a large number of vitamins from the A, B and D groups and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium and selenium. Selenium is essential for your body’s health and is a powerful antioxidant. Regular and proportionate consumption of this micro-element (by eating fish and seafood) is linked to good reproductive health and increased protection against infection and certain types of cancer. Tuna meat also contains a large amount of protein and Omega 3 fatty acids, which are a key factor in keep cholesterol levels low. Regularly eating tuna is also linked to a decreased probability of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

 

Every part of the fish, even its ‘swim’

There is an old Spanish saying that says you can eat every part of a pig, even its walk, meaning that every single part of the animal is used in some way.  Perhaps it would be an exaggeration to say the same about tuna, but a good attempt is made at Tunateca Balfegó, a gourmet space where chef Ekaitz Apraiz offers a menu that features forty dishes starring the fish. Because Balfegó tuna is much more than sushi, sashimi or tartar. In fact, its meat is so similar to beef that it can even be matured for relatively long periods of time, improving its texture and consistency and giving it a flavour with new, even better tasting notes. Everyone is familiar with tuna fillet and belly, but thanks to significant R&D and dissemination work by Balfegó over the past few years, other parts of the fish are now also valued that didn’t previously receive their due merit. Examples include parpatana, the neck or part that joins the head to the fillet, the morrillo (back of the head), cogote (back of the neck) and cheeks, which are all utterly delicious if cooked well.

Chefs from Ibiza who cook Balfegó bluefin tuna

 

The best restaurants in the Balearics serve Balfegó

The idea that top chefs are extremely demanding when it comes to the produce they use is no myth – it’s completely true. And Balfegó has been chosen to supply tuna to many of the most famous chefs around the world. In the Balearics too, many chefs have succumbed to the irresistible quality of Balfegó tuna.

Michelin-starred chefs such as Andreu Genestra (Andreu Genestra*, Mallorca), with his “Templar tuna” and his “Balfegó red tuna cheeks and green bean cheesecake”, Oscar Molino (La Gaia*, IGH Ibiza) with his “seared tuna chutoro with Txume sabayon and hibiscus salt”, José Miguel Bonet (Es Ventall, Ibiza), with his more Mediterranean style and his “Balfegó red tuna belly, cream of rice, caviar and free-range egg yolk” and his “Balfegó red tuna parpatana in lard with squid ink brioche” are just a few of the most famous examples.

But that’s not all... Ismael Fernández (Minami at Hotel Ushuaia, Ibiza) serves a “Balfegó red tuna chutoro with karashi sumiso sauce” and a surprising “Balfegó red tuna butifarra”. Mark Vaessen (Hotel OKU, Ibiza) includes several dishes on his menu that feature Balfegó tuna, such as the “Balfegó red tuna tartar with crispy potatoes and egg” and a “Balfegó red tuna tiradito with toasted truffle”. And last but not least, in Formentera, Antonio D’Angelo (Molo 47) impresses diners with his “red tuna belly noodles with shiso in sake osmotised melon, caviar and pata negra ham sprinkles”.

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