Most of tilapia used in sushi bars are raised in China where food quality is hardly regulated. It is common for tilapia to be raised in water where raw pig, chicken or human sewage is also dumped. China has a substantial shortage of sewage treatment facilities and tilapia have the ability to eat excrement and convert it into a firm and beautifully translucent flesh. The irony is that Chinese tilapia may appear to be clean and fresh but it’s actually among the dirtiest of all farmed seafood. Chinese tilapia is preferred in sushi bars because it’s cheap and because the fish have been treated with carbon monoxide to give it a fresh appearance which is especially important when it is served raw.
Here’s a fabulous untreated fillet of tilapia farmed by Bridgeport Aquaculture School. Chinese farmed tilapia fillets look almost as good as this fillet from Bridgeport. It would take a trained eye to tell the difference. All that shimmers is not gold.
The visionary and pioneering headmaster of the Bridgeport Aquaculture School, John Curtis, and I planned for two years before we were able to get the first student raised and prepared tilapia into Miya’s.