You are here


Tuna is a very popular sea fish with a predominantly white flesh and muscle tissues ranging from pink to red. The red tissues are contributed by the high amount of myoglobin in the tuna or Scombridae fish family, which is higher that most sea fishes. However, given the variety of species, the flesh of tuna can also vary from light pink to reddish brown. There are a total of 48 different types of tuna, out of which the Thunnus genus of tuna fishes comprises 9 different species. The most popular varieties of tuna include albacore, ahi, tunny, bonito, bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack and bigeye.

Tuna happens to be a prominent member of the fish family – mackerel, even though tuna naturally bears a stronger and a further robust flavor than white fishes. Tuna fishes are available both fresh and canned and have a meaty flavor and texture. Only a percent of these fishes are sold fresh in the market, while the rest is canned to be sold in the American market, where it is the most popular fish. The fishes are available all round the year and particularly found in the warm waters of Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans and the Mediterranean Sea. The most popular tuna recipes include smoked and pickled tuna.

History of Tuna
The word Tuna has been derived from the Spanish word “atun.” The word dates back to 1880 and many historians believe the word tuna has originated as a Spanish American word from the mother English word called “tunny.” The scientific genus of tuna fish is Thunnus, which is a Latin word. Tuna has been in popular existence since the ancient times and had been largely fished out from the temperate and warm zones of the Mediterranean Sea and Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Culinary Uses of the Tuna
Most tuna recipes include smoked version of the fish. Canned tunafish, which is preserved in oil and flavors, is mostly used in cooking flavorful broths and sauces. Sushi and sashimi dishes are also some popular tuna dishes, which are prepared with fresh and raw tuna.

Popular Tuna Recipes
Some of the most popular tuna dishes are tuna pickle, smoked tuna, tuna sandwich, tuna casserole and tuna salad. Both fresh and canned tuna can be used for the preparations. In pickles though, mostly dried tuna is used.

Cuisines Using Tuna
Tuna recipes are most popular in American cuisine, where the fish is eaten in sandwiches, casseroles, sauces, salads and pickles. In Japanese cuisine, sushi and sashimi are popularly made with this fish. In some coastal regions and islands of India, tuna dishes are popularly made by frying, currying or skewering the fish meat.

Preferable Cooking Methods for Tuna
Smoked tuna recipes are very popular and are usually prepared with the species that have a stronger flavor and more fat. For making sushi, fresh or flash frozen tuna should be used. If the fish is fresh, it is best cooked medium rare till the meat becomes translucent.

Nutritive Value of Tuna
Tuna fish happens to be an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and lean protein. The fish is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, not only does tuna make a healthy addition to a balanced diet menu but also, affects the health in a number of good ways like lowering the blood pressure, easing arthritis pain, reducing complications of asthma and lowering cholesterol. Tuna is also known to reduce the risks of heart diseases and is considered very effective in the healthy growth and development of small children. The fish is also low in calories and fat. Tuna recipes yield vitamins B complex, C and D and minerals like copper, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium. Regular consumption of tuna dishes can help in burning fat and keep the muscles, internal organs, nails, skin and hair in good condition. The fish is also effective in treating dry eye syndrome and reducing the impact of age concerned eye diseases. Tuna is also effective in preventing cancer.

Tuna Consumption Criteria
Although tuna is a nutrition rich healthy fish, some categories of people are advised not to consume the fish or recommended to eat it in limited amounts, owing to its mercury content. These categories include pregnant women, women in the childbearing age group, nursing mothers and children.

Tuna Buying and Storing Tips
Fresh tuna can be identified by bright and clear eyes of the fish. Moreover, the gills of the fish should have a reddish tinge, the scales should be shiny and the skin should be moist. A fresh tuna can also be identified by its moist, red or pink color which should be devoid of any browning. Rainbow pattern on the meat’s surface indicates stale fish, which shouldn’t be purchased. Prime raw steaks of tuna have bright red color, resembling raw beef. Some may even have a darker brown portion, which indicates a stronger flavor. Also, it is advisable to go for frozen tuna filets rather than the thawed frozen versions. Before storing the fish, it should be first removed from packaging, rinsed in cold water and patted dry. Next, the fish should be wrapped up in a foil and stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Tuna recipes can be prepared from this stored fish within two days. However, fresh tuna can be frozen for 2 months. Cooked tuna dishes can stay up to 4 days in the refrigerator while the whole smoked version of this fish can last for some 10 days in the fridge.
Food and Drug Administration Approval for Tuna

The FDA advises pregnant women, nursing mothers and children to limit their weekly consumption of the fish to 12 ounces, if they are having canned light tuna recipes. On the other hand, the measurement is 6 ounces if it includes albacore tuna dishes, fresh or canned.

Tuna: Trivia

1. Canned tuna first came into the market in 1903

2. In America, a person consumes 3.6 pounds of tuna recipes every year and most of it is comprised by canned tuna.