TI Times: Friday Island Feed.

15 minutes from Thursday Island by water taxi, and overlooking nearby Prince of Wales Island, lies a Robinson Crusoe style paradise – Friday Island.  We land onto a makeshift jetty, and are greeted by a charming young Japanese guy, who, it turns out, is on work experience to the island’s permanent residents, Kazuyoshi Takami and Mariko Tatsuzawa, who run Friday Island Pearls.IMG_0329DSCF7844Slide17For over 40 years, Kazuyoshi Takami has been growing and harvesting cultured pearls on Friday Island, having started out as a pearl diver during the 1960s until he created his own farm which is now one of the oldest and last remaining pearl farms in Australia.

Pearl cultivation is a protracted business that requires the precision skills of a surgeon…………IMG_0347………to insert a tiny piece of grit into the living mollusc in order to seed a pearl – this all takes at least 2 years for a pearl to form and a lot of labour intensive handling to ensure that the pearls remain healthy. There was a time when he could prepare 700 pearls daily, but Takami is satisfied now with about 400.

Takami is also the sole producer of pearl meat for consumption, supposedly an aphrodisiac worth $400 per kilo.  However, cultivating pearls and harvesting pearl meat is a dying business according to Takami, so in order to help make ends meet, he has developed a popular tourist package on this idyllic playground……….IMG_0322 ……….that includes a degustation menu of freshly caught seafood that he has caught and cooked himself…….DSCF7849Slide18…….the  purchase of the pearls in their many formats (including some pearl plates) and a demonstration of the exacting process of seeding the pearls.

Best of all was the food – firstly – nori rolls………..DSCF7857…………..accompanied with a pickled fish dish served in a pearl shell, which I think might have been a version of numus that the Torres News editor refers to in his blog Going Strait……..DSCF7858…………..this in turn was followed by a Queen fish – sashimi style platter in olive oil……….DSCF7861……….then tempura vegetables with a side of mackeral sashimi (finely sliced raw fish) and white fish sushi (white raw fish on rice)…….. DSCF7864……………then the pearl meat – again finely sliced and lightly fried along with some white fish and served on lemons from the tree in the garden……DSCF7867……….followed after that by a mixture of reef fish from garfish to trumpeter and queen – all lightly fried.DSCF7869And just when you thought that there couldn’t possibly be any more – desert!!DSCF7872Our last night on TI, we did as the locals often do – take a picnic up onto Green Hill Fort to toast a great trip and to watch the sun set.IMG_0357DSCF7898



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