Monday, April 16, 2018

A Tasting Menu of Mind Fish Co's Tuna from the Maldives

by Bryan Tsunoda @discovering_LA

If you haven’t experienced a collaboration before, it is an opportunity to see what is possible when two artists combine their efforts. The effort could involve many creative efforts such as a motion picture, a song, or even a breakthrough in science. I was invited to see a menu collaboration between two entrepreneurs: Mind Fish Co and chef Teresa Montaño.

“Pole-and-line fishing is a centuries-old technique and continues to employ the fishing communities of the Maldives, where their only natural renewable resource is the wild skipjack tuna,” said Mind Fish Co-Founder Jerry Lin. “All our skipjack tuna are pole-and-line caught and processed/packed in the Maldives.”

Lin obtained his masters in Aquatic Biology and wrote his thesis on the Maldives fishing industry. His interest and passion for sustainable seafood grew, which led him to starting Mind Fish, a company that exports canned tuna from the Maldives. Teresa Montaño was previously the executive chef of Ración which was on Jonathan Gold’s top 101 Best Restaurants. There she prepared beautifully plated Basque and Spanish tapas. She created a Spanish-inspired menu emphasizing sustainability, local ingredients and dishes to share with Iberian wines and beers.

The first was a crostini topped with a whipped goat butter, anchovy and tuna and topped with roasted radishes and fresh herbs.

The use of anchovies gave the topping a umami flavor and it did not exhibit the artificial cardboard and metallic taste of American canned tuna. This was paired with Capdevila Pujol Cava Brut, a delightful sparkling wine that was both fruity and nutty.

One of my favorite dishes that evening was the Basque tuna and avocado salad.

 I watched Montaño painstakingly lay each slice of avocado on the body of tuna. She then added greens, piquillo peppers and drizzled it with a sherry vinaigrette.

Tuna Marmitako was served in a bowl with a large sauteed prawn standing upright. 
Included in the stew was tuna, new potatoes, cherry tomatoes and pimentos. The delicious broth was made with lobster dashi. The person across from me couldn’t eat it because the head was still on the prawn!

Tonnato is a versatile sauce made with tuna. It can be served with vegetables, pork, fish and veal. Montaño prepared a delicate porchetta.

 Again, she combined the tuna with Spanish anchovies and added capers, dijon mustard, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and mayonnaise. What truly elevated this dish was the use of fennel pollen in the porchetta.

No tuna was used in the dessert! Montaño served a Catalan dessert - Crema Catalana.
The cinnamon and the sherry poached blueberries nicely elevated this traditional Spanish custard. 

Antalva Imports provided the beverages that evening. Each dish was combined with a different Spanish wine. My favorite that evening was the Albariño - this was both fruity and had a low to medium acidity. This made it ideal to pair with seafood and I really enjoyed it with the Basque tuna and avocado salad.

We were quite impressed that we were eating canned tuna. Lin told me that the American method for canning tuna yielded in inferior product. Using pole and line caught tuna is both a healthy and a sustainable way to consume the product. I’ve heard that some people feel that the tuna is so good, they simply eat it straight out of the can. Montaño skillfully creates modern takes on classic Spanish cuisine that are also visually appealing. I look forward to the opening of her new restaurant in late May. 

You can experience the amazing difference with Mind Fish Co’s tuna at Urban Radish or by ordering it on Amazon.

Teresa Montaño's new restaurant is slated to open in late May:
5715 N Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90042


Jamal Mohamed

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