Tips on Cooking Tuna
Tuna is best served raw-so they say, but for those not ready for that route there is, of course cooking tuna or better yet, canned-which is America’s all time favorite type of fish as well as way to purchase it. Roughly, one percent of all tuna is sold on the market as fresh. All other tuna is sorted by size and variety and canned in either water or oil serving mankind on a daily basis.
There are several varieties of tuna, with the flesh as different as the variety. Many enjoy the white (albacore) over the darker flesh but many more are used to the oil or sauces tuna is packed in and do not know the difference. Most of the tuna used for canning is yellow fin.
Fishermen have been pulling these muscular swimmers out of the warm waters of the Atlantic, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea for as long as people have been eating fish. Tunas are constantly on the move with a need to eat about 10% of their body weight every day. According to the variety, tuna can weigh anywhere from 10-25 pounds for smaller varieties and 600 pounds to a ton for the larger.
Cooking tuna has always been popular in certain food circles but has become more popular due to the health rewards. Though some tuna has a higher fat content most are quite low in fat and/or calories. Due to their Omega 3 fatty acids it is good for those with heart problems. Steaks (albacore is best) can be grilled, pan broiled or seared. Figure three to five ounces per person depending on the meal being prepared and gender.
Before cooking tuna many people like to marinade. This is especially true with tuna from varieties with dark flesh (some prime tuna steaks are the deep color of raw beef) because of their stronger taste. Four to six hours is good but at least an hour for a pleasing flavor. For the best results rinse fresh or thawed steaks or fillets and slip them into a shallow glass dish to marinade overnight in the refrigerator. Be sure to turn at least once to ensure that all parts have been allowed to set in marinade before outdoor or oven grilling.
The flesh of all fish is lighter than that of land animals. It does not take long for tuna steaks to cook on either side. They are finished when the flesh begins to flake. Instructions for pan cooking are more or less the same. The main factor when grilling or pan cooking is to oil the fish or the pan if you have not marinated (just the pan if you have). Because tuna skin is tough, it is often taken off before selling so when cooking tuna always add to a hot pan or grill to eliminate tearing the flesh when it is time to turn the steaks.
Many people like applying a rub to the flesh before cooking tuna. Simple herbs and spices for the purists-perhaps garlic and onion powder, a few pinches of dill or the interesting flavor of rosemary. Blackened fish steaks are popular and also poached fillets or steaks in a tomato-based sauce with sliced black olives, onions and green peppers.