There's a lot more to tuna than just canned fish. There are a number of varieties of tuna-15 species to be exact-but you are most likely to come across just these four: bluefin, yellowfin (also referred to as ahi), skipjack, and albacore.
The fish themselves range in size and color, with blue fin being the largest with dark red flesh, to skipjack, a lighter fleshed, smaller fish. Some varieties are best raw in sushi while others are ideal for canning. The varieties are very different from each other, so it is important you read your recipe carefully before substituting one kind of tuna for another.
This is a common variety with the lightest flesh and mildest flavor. It is frequently canned as white tuna and sold at a higher price than light chunk tuna. The Environmental Defense Fund reports the mercury level in albacore tuna is nearly three times as high as that of skipjack tuna. It is recommended that young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women watch their intake of albacore.
Bluefin tuna is often the variety of choice for fresh tuna connoisseurs. It has a bit more fat and flavor than the other varieties. When the bluefin is mature the flesh is dark red to almost purple. This variety is the largest, with the biggest fish recorded to have grown to about 1,600 pounds. Most of the bluefin harvest is exported to Japan and sold at a premium price for sashimi. Bluefin steaks can also be quickly seared and served sliced, still raw in the middle.
As you can surmise from its name, this fish likes to jump and skip over the surface of the ocean. This affordable variety of tuna is usually canned and is known as chunk light tuna. It generally has the strongest flavor and highest fat content and is also the smallest variety, seldom growing larger than 25 pounds. It is known as arctic bonito and aku-dried bonito is known as katsuobushi and is used in Japanese cuisine.
Yellowfin (Ahi) Tuna
Also known as ahi tuna, yellowfin is less expensive than bluefin but isn't far behind in quality. Yellowfin is also more common and easy to find in the grocery store or fish market. It is deep pink with flavor a bit stronger than albacore. Sashimi-grade raw ahi is used in poke bowls and sushi rolls. Searing and grilling is also a popular way to cook yellowfin tuna, and it can also be canned.
Cooking With Tuna
Everybody knows about the tried-and-true tuna salad, tuna melts, and tuna casserole. But there are so many other ways to cook tuna, including salad Nicoise (a French salad of tuna, olives, green beans, potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs with a delicious anchovy dressing), seared ahi tuna steaks, and spicy tuna sushi burgers. If using raw tuna steaks, it is important that you don't overcook-the fish tastes best when rare in the center (but of course, cook to your liking). If looking to make something out of the ordinary with canned tuna, consider deviled eggs with tuna, tuna risotto, or stuffed peppers with tuna.
Whether you're cutting back on meat or just craving a lightened-up dinner, it's a good time to put fresh tuna on the menu. Meaty tuna steaks and fillets cook quickly on the grill or stovetop and their subtle flavor can be enhanced by a variety of sauces and seasonings. High-quality ahi tuna is also delicious eaten raw in thin slices or as part of sushi rolls-and even make an outstanding burger!
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Spice-Rubbed Seared Tuna Steaks With Balsamic Reduction
Ahi tuna (also called yellowfin) is a firm-textured fish that stands up wonderfully to grilling. This recipe calls for coating it in a zesty spice rub and searing the fish quickly on the outside, leaving it rare in the middle. With a crunchy exterior and a rich, buttery texture inside, it's a tasty, healthier alternative to steak. Serve with the included balsamic reduction drizzled over top.
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Seared Black Pepper-Crusted Ahi Tuna Steaks
If you like peppercorn steak, give this seared black-pepper crusted ahi tuna dish a try. Season thick tuna fillets with a mixture of salt, coriander, paprika, and cayenne pepper, then coat with plenty of coarsely ground black pepper. This forms a crunchy crust when the fish is seared briefly on both sides in a cast iron skillet.
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Spicy Tuna and Avocado Sushi Burger
This spicy tuna and avocado sushi burger requires barely any cooking, and tastes like a spicy sushi roll. Fresh tuna chunks are dressed in an easy, creamy sauce, and layered with avocado, cilantro, and crispy fried garlic onto buns made from leftover sushi rice,
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Seared Tuna in Wasabi Sauce
Bright wasabi paste is typically served as a flavoring with sushi and sashimi. Here, it forms the base of a fantastically flavorful sauce that also includes white wine, butter, cilantro, and soy sauce. It's used to dress up seared-on-the-outside, rare-on-the-inside fresh tuna steaks.
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Nicoise Tuna Salad With Dijon Dressing
Using fresh tuna fillets instead of canned fish is a great way to upgrade a bistro-style Nicoise salad. The grilled fish mingles with boiled new potatoes, crisp-tender green beans, fresh spinach leaves, hard cooked eggs, red onion, and chopped olives in a homemade Dijon-vinaigrette dressing.
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Grilled Tuna Steaks With Asian Sesame Crust
Restaurant-style grilled tuna steaks can be yours at home with this quick and easy recipe. Tuna steaks or fillets are marinated in a soy-ginger-sesame oil mixture, then coated in sesame seeds and cooked in less than 10 minutes on your barbecue or indoor grill. Follow the instructions for thickening the marinade to use as a delightful finishing sauce.
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In less than 30 minutes, you can cook restaurant-style tuna teriyaki at home with only a handful of ingredients, making it a great choice for weeknight dinner. Fresh tuna steaks are pan-sauteed on your stovetop and glazed with a delicious teriyaki sauce (but you could use store-bought in a pinch).
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Move over, salmon gravlax! High-quality fresh tuna becomes luscious and smooth and when cured in vodka for 12 to 24 hours in the fridge. Serve it as a party appetizer to impress guests at brunches and holiday gatherings with cream cheese, rye bread, and optional horseradish.
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Basque Tuna Stew
Fish stew made with fresh tuna is a traditional recipe from the Basque region of Spain and makes a comforting meal on cold or rainy days. Chunks of meaty tuna, potatoes, green bell pepper, onions, and garlic are simmered in water or broth, with optional chili peppers, and chopped fresh parsley for garnish.
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Spicy Tuna Rolls
If you've always wanted to learn how to make sushi at home, here is your chance! It is easier than you might think to make spicy tuna rolls, one of the most popular Japanese restaurant orders, in your own kitchen. Simply shop for the ingredients, pick up a bamboo mat for rolling, and follow our step-by-step instructions.
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Grilled Tuna With Honey Mustard Marinade
It couldn't be easier to make this flavor-packed grilled entree that's ready for the table in under 30 minutes. The fish is quickly marinated in a sweet and zesty honey-mustard mixture, then flash-cooked over a hot grill. Serve over rice with grilled vegetables on the side for a complete, nutritious meal.
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Poke Rice Bowl
Poke is a Hawaiian raw fish salad that makes a refreshing meal when eaten over cooked rice. Bite-sized pieces of meaty ahi tuna are combined with fresh avocado, cucumber, scallions, and sesame seeds-all dressed in a zingy soy-citrus sauce and layered over grains. For an even healthier bowl, swap the white rice for brown.
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Ginger Soy Braised Tuna
Enjoy home-style Japanese cooking with this recipe for braised fresh tuna. Pouring boiling hot water over the raw fish before braising it is the traditional way to clean tuna and prevent fishy cooking aromas. The fish cooks for about an hour in a simmering liquid made with ginger, ginger ale, soy sauce, sake, and rice wine to absorb the fantastic flavors.
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Olive Oil-Poached Albacore Tuna
Poaching in olive oil is a chef-favorite way to slowly cook this meaty fish and produce a satisfying texture that is similar to tapas-quality canned tuna, while amplifying its great taste. Here, garlic cloves, black peppercorns, citrus zest, a bay leaf, and optional chili pepper are added to the poaching oil for a delicate lift of flavor.
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Lemon Pepper Grilled Tuna
You only need three ingredients and a few minutes of grilling time to make this delicious lemon pepper tuna. It's a great choice on summer evenings when you don't want to slave over a hot stove. Be sure to plan for an hour of marinating the fish in the fridge, so it can absorb the flavors of the citrus-infused olive oil.
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Italian Tuna Crudo
Crudo means "raw" in Italian and this fresh tuna appetizer from Italy is similar to Japanese sashimi. Thinly-sliced, sushi-grade tuna is briefly marinated in olive oil for serving with classic regional ingredients, including Meyer lemon and herbaceous fresh basil.
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Grilled Tuna Steaks With Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
A sweet roasted red pepper sauce dresses up grilled tuna steaks for an entree that's perfect for summer dinner parties. Capers and lemon juice add saltiness and brightness to a delicious sauce that would also make a nice accompaniment to roasted chicken or a spread on top of crostini.
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Tuna Chops With Lemon Cream Sauce
In this elegant Italian-inspired dish for two, fresh tuna steaks are seared in a pan, and dressed in a delectable lemon cream sauce with capers adding their briny flavor. Even better? It's ready in 15 minutes from start to finish.
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Honey Lime-Glazed Grilled Ahi Tuna
Firm ahi tuna fillets are marinated for 30 minutes in a mixture of lime juice, olive oil, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger, before taking a turn on the grill. They are finished with a honey-lime glaze, adding a hint of sweetness that takes their flavor over the top. Serve with your favorite grains and a side green salad for a complete meal.
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Tuna Sashimi With Daikon and Ginger
When you crave tuna sashimi, skip the restaurant wait and make it at home. Delicate daikon radish and fresh ginger are the perfect accompaniments to the meaty, raw fish.
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Grilled Spicy Tuna Steaks
Tuna steaks are marinated in a nicely-spiced mixture of lemon juice, cilantro, garlic, shallots, cayenne pepper, and cumin before cooking to perfection on the grill. Top with additional cilantro and feel free to adjust the spice amounts in the marinade to suit your personal spice tolerance.
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Hibachi Teriyaki Tuna
Thin slices of tender tuna are marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, sake, white wine, sugar, lemon juice, and tomato paste, then seared quickly on a hot grill. Dress the fish up with prepared teriyaki sauce and garnish with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds for a pretty presentation. Makes a tasty, healthful dinner with cooked rice and grilled vegetables.
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