Last Call: The most humane way to kill a fish also makes it the most delicious

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Vox’s Bridgett Henwood has produced a super-interesting video that’s worth eight minutes of your time. It’s about ikejime, a Japanese process of killing fish that not only purportedly is the most humane, but also yields a better-tasting fish.

In short: Most commercially caught fish are killed by suffocation—essentially letting it sit out of water—and the stress hormones flooding its flesh produces a bitter, fishy taste. Ikejime translates to “brain spike,” and Henwood introduces us to a former commercial fisherman who advocates this method as the better way of killing fish. What’s most applicable to Takeout readers is watching Henwood taste sashimi from a fish that’s been suffocated versus one via the ikejime method—the latter rots slower, which means fish stays fresher, longer.


The video’s slightly gory and includes metal phrases like “spinal cord destruction,” but I learned a lot from this video—and makes me want to seek out restaurants that buy ikejime’d fish.

(Incidentally, I knew Bridgett when she was a summer intern at the Chicago Tribune. Now she’s doing great things, like this! Proud of you, Bridge...)

Note: The Takeout is taking its summer hiatus next week! We’ll be publishing new features, but we’ll be putting out fewer stories than usual. We’ll be back to full staff on July 8. Eat responsibly!