Bizarre Boat Bits: Part 5
  |  First Published: December 2008


Have you ever gone and bought one of those cheap multi-piece screwdriver sets and been confused to find one tool that looks every bit like a screwdriver except instead of a Phillips or flat blade it has a rounded, sharp point. When I was young I could never work out what that one was for (and still don’t know) however we put it to use, although not what it was actually intended for I’m sure.

This spiked screwdriver would be used for brain spiking fish when we went out to the reef. This process is formly known as Ike Jime, the name which obviously originates from Japan, a country where they take great care in dealing with their seafood to get it to the table as fresh as possible and in the best condition.

By killing fish as quickly as possible, it is believed (and there is probably some scientific data to support this) that the fish is caused less stress than if it were to just flip around in the icebox and die. Therefore, the quality of the flesh is better without the toxins that build up in the flesh during this process.

As the Japanese love their raw tuna, and other fish, great care is taken to get it in front of the consumer in A1 condition. All tuna brought onto a fishing vessel are immediately brain-spiked to stop them struggling and bruising the flesh. The tuna are even laid on large specially shaped mattresses that prevent the tuna’s contact with hard surfaces that would also damage the quality of the flesh on that side. The fish is lifted from the water, laid on the mattress and spiked through the brain with the Ike Jime spike, which apart from improving the flesh quality is also a quick and humane way to kill a fish.

Whilst I started using the old pointed screwdriver for this task, I now use one of the specially designed Ike Jime or fish spikes that are now available at many tackle outlets. And yes, I do believe that it improves the quality of the flesh.

If you really want the best out of your fish then you need to spike, bleed, gill and gut your fish before putting them into an ice-slurry. Leaving fish to flap around and struggle in the kill tank or bin without chilling can really deplete the end quality of the flesh. Being fresh, the fish will still be good, but can be so much better by brain spiking and processing them quickly and humanely. So this is why I carry an Ike Jime spike on my boat.

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