By Bernadette H. Carreon (photos courtesy of Ebiil Society Inc.)

The incredibly versatile tuna was the star of the show at the World Tuna Day cookout, featuring five participating restaurants that vied for the best tuna dish on May 2.

Palm Bay Restaurant’s entry was judged to be the best, winning first place with its grilled Grade A tuna dish in coconut sauce, garnished with locally sourced vegetables such as kankum.

Winning second place, Fisherman Wharf made tuna steak with balsamic sauce and tomatoes. Third place went to Elelai Restaurant, which served a spicy tuna on crispy sushi rice with sesame oil, siracha and remolade sauce.

Hosted by the Palau Ebiil Society Inc., the World Tuna Day cookout was a celebration of the marine specie which is  a vital source of economic development, food security and  revenue in Palau and other Pacific Island nations.

Anne Singeo, executive director of the society, said the sustainable seafood program seeks to connect local fishermen to chefs and to promote 100 percent fresh and sustainable seafood.

Elelai, Palm Bay, Executive Lounge, Sarah’s Yum Yum and Fishermen’s Wharf are the five restaurants taking part in a program which created a cooperative and network of local fishermen and restaurant owners to support small-scale fishery in Palau.

Singeo said through this program, fishermen can directly bring their catch to restaurants in Palau. The program, she said not only help local fishermen sell their catch but also give chefs direct access to fresh and sustainably caught seafood.

In Palau, where most food items are imported, this program help restaurants get the fresh catch.

Singeo added that the group of fishermen in their network is also using fishing methods that target one fish at a time and results in very little bycatch.

In the tuna cookout, the restaurants were judged on the criteria of taste, the freshness of the fish, originality of tuna dishes and presentation.

Ebiil Society also launched an app called OurFish to help local fishing communities monitor and log the quantity, type, and location of fish being caught.

Ebiil in partnership with the international organization Rare launched the app here last year to address underreporting of fish catch and overfishing.

The Ebiil Society will again host a cookout contest in June 2.