During the year selling Prasong over 4000 kilo Norwegian salmon and same quantity of mackerel was served to hungry restaurant guests in Northeast Thailand. This in an area of Thailand were Norwegian salmon and mackerel was unknown not long ago. So was sushi and sashimi. Prasong worked several years as a sushi chef in Japan, before he decided to try to introduce exclusive Japanese food in Surin, a city best known as the Elephant Capital of Thailand. Thais have a very positive relationship with Japanese food. Although it is usually mild, lacking the chili that Thai food is well known for, the Thais love Japanese cuisine.
Salmon purchased sometimes at the local Makro cash and carry supermarket, sometimes directly from the importer.
Phla saba Nippon
When Norwegian mackerel made its entry into the Thai market at the end of the 1990s it was referred to as “phla saba Nippon” – Japanese mackerel. There were Japanese exporters who discovered that they could sell Norwegian mackerel to Thailand. Thai admiration of Japanese culture and traditions made everything that was “Japanese” easy to sell.
Since has the “phla saba Nippon” changed to be called just “phla saba”. During periods when Norwegian mackerel (Scomber scombrus) has been high in price, Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus) has been available in the Thai market at a lower price. The stocks of both Atlantic Mackerel and Pacific Mackerel vary greatly. Lately many Asian consumers have been sceptical of the Pacific mackerel. They fear Japanese leaks of radioactivity has made fish dangerous.
Salmon Kabutoni, salmon head in shoyu sauce is a popular dish. To keep up with demand Prasong has to order extra heads.
Exclusive belly fat
Norwegian salmon has revolutionized the Japanese sushi and sashimi tradition. Before Norwegian salmon made its appearance in Japan in the 1980s, did the risk of local salmon danger containing dangerous parasites, made it necessary to deep freeze the salmon before using it as sashimi og sushi. One alternative was frozen wild Pacific salmon. But the fat content in the wild salmon varies, and the supply is very much limited to the fishing seasons.
Salmon with low fat content is not as delicate and tasty as fresh salmon with high fat content. Indeed, fish pieces with much belly fat serves as its own exclusive sashimi dish.
Sushi, which in earlier times was fast food, often eaten by men before them were visiting Japanese entertainment venue, is today served in fast food outlets and in the high-class restaurants in Japan. It addition to be a very popular food, sushi and sashimi, is due to high content of Omega 3-oil considered to be very healthy.
Sashimi of salmon belly meat and sushi. Belly meat it is only served at the more exclusive Japanese restaurants.
Free of parasites
Norwegian farmed salmon is not vulnerable to parasites that can harm humans. The colleagues of a Japanese sushi chef, by the name Kakuta, were making fun of when he as the first Japanese chef started to use Norwegian salmon. Today Norwegian salmon the preferred salmon both for sushi and sashimi, not only in Japan, but worldwide.
Prasong its success in Surin and Buriram is just one of many examples of how a global trend sweeps far beyond the large cities. Both Surin and Buriram is traditional cities were rice and other agricultural activity is the main employment. However, as income is rising, the locals are willing to pay extra for some extravagance.
The sushi chain Mr. Sushi established a restaurant in Buriram a few years before Prasong opened his restaurants. Prasong have chosen to be more exclusive and offer guests an experience of the best of Japanese cuisine. He has by focusing on quality, not on being low price.
Many people think that sushi means raw fish. But sushi basically refers to rice cured with vinegar. Sashimi refers rather to raw fish or raw meat. 40 per cent of the fish consumed in Japan are eaten raw. In tonnes, this amounts to approximately 1.5 million tonnes per year.
Saba Teri is Norwegian mackerel with teriyaki sauce.
Salmon head with Shoyu sauce
Prasong serves sashimi, sushi and other traditional dishes such as fish and meat in various sauces and presentations. He serves his guests such as Saba Teri, which is a whole mackerel fillet with teriyaki sauce, and Salmon Kabutoni as salmon head with shoyus sauce. Last year Norway exported 8596 tonnes of salmon (gutted weight) to Thailand, against 8133 tonnes in the same period last 2013. Exports of mackerel in the same period fell from 6257 tonnes to 4536 tonnes. However, exports of mackerel fluctuate widely, and Thai buyers has been sitting on the fence while prices have fallen throughout the year.
Only some of mackerel and salmon exported to Thailand are consumed there. Most of the fish is processed and re-exported. But the domestic consumption increases, not least thanks Prasong and other restaurateurs who knows that the best salmon and best mackerel comes from Norway.