Has your fish been ethically killed? Its a question you may of not pondered while digging into your favourite sashimi or whole fish plate.  But with the ever more growing awareness of how our food is harvested, grown or killed we thought it was a good time to share a secret of why the whole sashimi grade fish we work with looks so dam sexy on arrival to Canada.  

Heres the reason why….Iki Jime !

Iki jime 活き締め is a method of paralyzing fish to ethically kill the fish and maintain the quality of its meat.  It is considered to be the fastest and most humane method of killing a fish.

The technique originated in Japan, and in the early 70’s was shown to a handful of fishers in New Zealand so they could supply the Japanese market with the similar fish found in both NZ and Japanese waters.

Iki Jime involves the insertion of a spike quickly into the brain, usually located slightly behind and above the eye, which results in immediate brain death. 

When spiked correctly, the fish fins flare out and the fish relaxes, thereby instantly ceasing all motion of the fish.  This prevents the fish from flipping around on the deck and freaking out.

When a fish is allowed to flop around on deck, the muscles consume Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) which therefore produces lactic acid, making the fish sour. 

Another interesting fact is that the Iki Jime process causes the blood contained in the fish flesh to retract to the gut cavity, which produces a better coloured fillet and combined with no lactic acid, a sweeter flavoured fillet also!

Its why New Zealand fishermen like Daniel Harvey at Red Line Fishing (pictured above using the iki jime technique) and Darrin Fabricius at Wild Fish NZ get praise for their fish from top Chefs in Canada using their product.

Darrin’s Instagram
Dan’s Instagram

A mix box from Leefish showing the iki jime spike just above and behind the eye. Pic cred: Rocky Choi