What´s all about?
- Innovative tuna dishes at SamaQ by ArabesQ
- Tuna is among the most popular edible fish
- How nutritious is tuna?
- Fish farming using sustainable aquaculture
- Fish labels offer guidance to consumers
SamaQ by ArabesQ – the name on the menu says it all. The Arabic word ‘samak’ means ‘fish’. But not just any fish – tuna in a range of variations. In pitta pockets, Arabian bowls or served with thyme bread – SamaQ in Düsseldorf is where Arab specialities meet tuna.
Innovative tuna dishes at SamaQ by ArabesQ
A restaurant specialising in tuna – whose idea was that? It was Dr Shukrallah Na’amnieh, owner-operator of the Düsseldorf restaurant ArabesQ, together with his colleagues from biotechnology company TunaTech . ‘I’m not just a restaurateur, I’m also a qualified biochemist specialising in enzyme development through molecular engineering and the synthesis of fine chemicals. I founded TunaTech in 2013 with Dr Stephan Schulz, Prof. Dr Christopher Bridges and Dr Florian Borutta. We are bound not only by our interest in sustainable fishing and aquaculture but also by our passion for food,’ explains Shukrallah Na’amnieh. In 2021, the four TunaTech founders came up with the idea of opening a restaurant. And this led to SamaQ by ArabesQ, where everything revolves around tuna. By the start of 2022, they were ready to open the doors at SamaQ by ArabesQ.
Tuna is among the most popular edible fish
1. alaska pollack
Source: German Fish Information Centre, 2022
Own-brand products from sustainable fisheries and aquaculture
The ever-increasing proportion of certified own-brand products in the fish sector stood at 84% in Germany and 73% worldwide - which is 10% higher than in the 2021/22 financial year.
Why tuna, specifically? ‘Tuna is tasty, healthy and very versatile in cooking. Not to mention that Germans love to eat tuna,’ says Florian Borutta from SamaQ in Düsseldorf, where they exclusively serve fresh tuna, usually yellowfin tuna. Figures recorded by the Fish Information Centre in 2022 show that tuna is popular in Germany. After Alaska pollock and salmon, tuna held third place in the 2022 ranking of the most important fish, crustaceans and molluscs. It was followed by herring and prawns. In the same year, 994,618 tonnes of tuna or canned bonito were imported into the EU.
Even if ‘bonito’ means nothing to many tuna lovers, they are very likely to have eaten it at least once. It’s sold here in Germany as tinned tuna – although in purely biological terms, it isn’t really tuna. However, it does belong to the tuna and mackerel family and is similar to them in appearance and flavour. And in contrast to bluefin and yellowfin tuna, stocks of which are rapidly diminishing, bonito is present in almost all of the world’s oceans, is very prolific and breeds rapidly.
Despite the huge demand, tuna consumption isn’t unproblematic. Concerns include the possible contamination of the fish with heavy metals like mercury, the bycatching of dolphins etc. and the endangerment of some species of tuna through overfishing. ‘We are conscious of the problems associated with tuna fishing and we are absolutely against this type of fishing. This is why we founded TunaTech and we obtain our tuna from sustainable aquaculture. It means we can offer our guests all the enjoyment of tuna without the worry,’ says Borutta. Along with SamaQ, more and more consumers are seeing the value in sustainable tuna. In a 2023 Nutrition Report, 57% of respondents indicated that they look out for sustainable fish labels when they buy fish.
Fish farming using sustainable aquaculture
But to what extent does biotech company TunaTech represent sustainable tuna? The Düsseldorf start-up builds and maintains aquacultures for hard-to-reproduce fish species like Atlantic bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna. The fish they breed are then released into the sea. ‘In various research and industry projects, we have already been able to release hundreds of millions of artificially bred tuna into the sea and make a contribution to environmentally-friendly aquaculture for the future,’ explains Stephan Schulz from TunaTech. By breeding fish in aquacultures, the biotech company contributes to meeting the demand for aquatic products and preventing the collapse of stocks of wild fish and other marine animals.
And how does breeding tuna in aquacultures work? ‘Getting the bluefin tuna to spawn is a huge challenge because they usually only do this in the wild,’ explains Schulz. ‘For this reason, we have stimulation implants that contain a peptide that boosts the cascade of sexual hormones and encourages them to spawn.’ The implants are harmless to the tuna and have no effect on subsequent consumption as they break down completely within a few days. TunaTech also relies on DNA and protein-based testing procedures to stimulate bluefin tuna breeding. ‘To do this, we take tiny muscle samples from the tuna with special biopsy needles. We then use these for inbreeding analysis, as well as parenthood and gender tests,’ adds Christopher Bridges. When the mature fish are later caught, a DNA paternity test can show precisely whether they come from TunaTech.
How nutritious is tuna?
Many people love the taste of tuna. And the fish also contains several nutrients:
- Tuna is a source of protein: With 21.5 g per 100 g (fresh and raw) or 23.8 g per 100 g (in cans and oil), tuna contains a great deal of valuable and easily digestible protein with vital amino acids.
- Tuna contains long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids: Depending on the variant, tuna contains around 100 to 200 mg per 100 g of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 25 to 27 mg per 100 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
- Tuna is rich in Vitamin D: The vitamin D content varies depending on how it’s cooked but is usually between 3 and 5 micrograms per 100 g of tuna.
- Tuna is especially rich in zinc: 100 g of tuna contains 0.08 milligrams of zinc. Tuna is also a source of calcium, iron, copper, iodine and selenium.