Other Names: Albacore: Atum voador (Portuguese); atún blanco, bonito del Norte (Spanish); binnaga (Japanese); germon, thon blanc (French); tombo (Hawaiian); tonáki (Greek); tonno bianco (Italian); weisser thun (German); yazili orkinos (Turkish). Bigeye: Atum barbatana negra (Portuguese); atún de aleta negra (Spanish); schwartzflossenthum (German); taiseiyo maguro (Japanese); thon à nageoires noires (French); tonno pinna nera (Italian); tónos marvrópteros (Greek). Bluefin: Atum rabilho (Portuguese); atún rojo,
cimarrón (Spanish); kuromaguro (Japanese); orkinoz
(Turkish); roter thun, thunfisch (German); tonno (Italian); tónos (Greek). Skipjack: Aku (Hawaiian); Arctic bonito; atún listado, bonito de altura, listado
(Spanish); cizgiliorkinoz baligi (Turkish); echter bonito (German); gaiado (Portuguese); katsuo (Japanese); lakérada, palamida (Greek); ocean bonito; tonnetto striato (Italian). Yellowfin: Ahi (Hawaiian); atum albacora (Portuguese); atún claro, rabil (Spanish);
gelbflossen-thunfisch (German); kiwadamaguro (Japanese); tónos kitrinópteros (Greek). Scombridae.
General Description: Tuna are large migratory fish that travel in dense shoals. As early as the second century bce, the Greeks knew of tuna’s migratory habits, which are still not fully understood. Today tuna fishing is industrialized and
scientific, with helicopters and satellites used to locate migrating shoals.
Albacore (Thunnus alalunga_) are recognized by their extra-long pectoral fins. They are best known in the United States as canned “white meat” tuna. Albacore is well suited to grilling and is best served rare. Bigeye (or blackfin) tuna (T. obesus_) have fat bodies and large heads and eyes. Bigeye tuna is usually sold as fresh or frozen steaks, has rich and
hearty flavor, and is popular for sushi and sashimi. Bluefins (T. thynnus_) are the largest tuna. In Sicily, a long net intercepts the migrating fish, diverting them into a series of ponds and finally into a net where the fish are speared with gaffs. Bluefins are especially prized for use raw in sushi, ceviche, and tartars because of their high fat content. Skipjack tuna (_Katsuwonus pelamis) are small fish that congregate in schools found in the warmer waters of the world. Nearly half the global tuna catch is skipjack. Larger,
darker-fleshed skipjack are enjoyed in Japan for sushi and sashimi. Yellowfin tuna (T. albacares) have a long, bright yellow dorsal fin and a yellow stripe down their steel-blue backs. The Hawaiian name, ahi, means “fire.” Yellowfins are fished in tropical waters and are widely canned as “light tuna.”
Locale and Season: Fresh albacore are in season on the American Pacific coast from May through November. There are also fisheries in Korea, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa,
Spain, and Taiwan. Frozen albacore are available year-round.
In America, bluefins are in season in New England from July through October and in California from June through November. In America, high-quality yellowfin comes from Hawaii, Florida, Mexico, and California. They are available year-round, though supplies are greatest in summer. Yellowfins also come from France, Spain, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, and Taiwan.
Characteristics: Albacore’s creamy white, slightly rose-tinted meat resembles veal. Because they are soft, they are not suited to sushi. Bluefins are usually sold fresh and are the fattiest of all tunas, with cherry-red flesh when raw. When fully cooked, the meat is quite firm, dense, and ivory in color, though they are often seared and served rare to maintain moistness. The flavor is full-bodied with the firmness and look of beef. Skipjack average 5 to 8 pounds, with pale pinkish flesh; they can be used for sushi. Yellowfins are not as large as bluefins. The meat is mild, similar to swordfish, with more flavor than albacore but less fat than bluefin. The skin of tuna is not eaten and is usually removed before cooking.
How to Choose: High-grade clipper albacore loins have been cut from freshly landed tuna and frozen onboard. When
grilling or broiling, cut steaks at least 1 1/2 inches thick and marinate before cooking. Look for bigeyes with glistening, bright color and firm, springy texture. Big bluefins are graded by taking sample “plugs” out of their flesh. Those with best color and richest in fat, Number 1, sashimi-grade, are destined for Japan’s best sushi bars and return very high prices. Number 2 fish, grill-grade, are leaner; lower grades tend to be dry when cooked. Choose bluefin that is deep red
with firm, springy texture. Cut steaks will quickly bleed their juices and look pale and dry. Skipjack are usually sold frozen because of their short shelf life. Look for tuna without any drying out, a sign of freezer burn. More than any other kind of tuna, fresh yellowfin is susceptible to scombroid poisoning if not kept chilled at all stages of handling. Choose yellowfin
with glistening flesh and bright, clear, reddish-pink color and a fresh smell. Saku tuna is specially prepared by a “smoking” process (using carbon monoxide) that lends no flavor but helps to preserve sushi-ready rectangular sections of bluefin or yellowfin tuna that are sealed in plastic and frozen.
Storage: All tuna quickly deteriorates, especially once cut into steak portions. Refrigerate (preferably uncut, rather than as steaks), covered with crushed ice, up to 1 day.
1. Cut out the blood line, the darker flesh near the backbone (although the Japanese prize this flesh).
2. Albacore: broil, grill, or sauté. Bigeye: excellent raw;
briefly pan-sear, grill, or roast. Bluefin: bake, broil, grill, sauté, smoke, or serve raw. Skipjack: broil, sauté, or pan-fry. Yellowfin: bake, broil, grill, sauté, poach in olive oil, smoke, or serve raw.
Serving Suggestion: Substitute darker tuna for any beef steak recipes, lighter tuna for veal or chicken recipes.
Flavor Affinities: Anchovy, avocado, capers, celery, chiles, demi-glace, fennel, garlic, ginger, lemon, mango, mayonnaise,
olive oil, onion, orange, rice wine, scallion, sesame, shallot, soy sauce, tomato, wasabi, white wine.
from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com