Ronqueo at La Azotea
It was definitely not your average Tuesday morning. I had been invited (along with a few journalists, bloggers, photographers and friends) to a “ronqueo”, the skilled cutting of an almadraba tuna. The almadraba (Arabic for “the place of striking or beating”) is an age-old technique for catching blue fin tuna that continues to the present day. Every year during the tuna migration from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean (May-June), mazes of nets are set, creating a channel of nets which direct the tunas to a larger “floor net” which is then raised to the surface, enclosing and capturing the tunas.
La Azotea had arranged to have a tuna delivered to their Jesús del Gran Poder location to give us a demonstration of the traditional cutting art know as as the “ronqueo” – the name comes from the rasping sound made when the knife cuts through the spine (from Spanish “roncar”- to snore). The 233 kilo tuna arrived and, with some difficulty, was transferred from the truck to the restaurant, which had been stripped of all tables and chairs and had a protective layer of plastic covering the floor. The master cutter then wasted no time in getting down to work.
First the head was removed and it was discovered that the tuna had been killed “Japanese style” with a bolt to the head while still in the water. Then the belly (ventresca) was removed and shortly afterwards we heard the rasping sound of knife against spine. The massive upper and lower loin and tail sections were next to come out and then the cutter went to work on the head, removing the cheeks, mormo, morillo (don’t know how to translate those last two).
Then we were treated to the freshest tuna tataki ever – straight out of the fish and onto the griddle. It was a fascinating experience and, as with jamón cutting, it was easy to see that hand-cutting the tuna in this way is truly an art form. I’m so glad I got a chance to see my first ronqueo. Thanks Juan!
This is pretty much the end of the almadraba season for this year so make sure to get over to La Azotea this week while the fresh tuna lasts.
Jesús del Gran Poder 31
Mateos Gago 8
chefs Jesús and José María with La Azotea owner Juan