If you’ve eaten sushi, you’re probably familiar with the word “ahi” (ah-he) which is the Hawaiian name for this month’s featured fish: yellowfin tuna. One of the 15 types of tuna, yellowfin makes delicious eating and is a challenge to catch, which is why it is one of the most popular among all fish wranglers. According to researchers, more yellowfin tuna is landed both, recreationally and commercially, from ports in Louisiana than from any other Gulf coast state. Venice, La, is referred to as the Tuna Capital of the Gulf.
So what makes this fish so unique and sought after? Well for starters, it’s a stunner in appearance. The yellowfin’s torpedo-shaped body is a metallic blue-green that changes to silvery white around the belly. It is distinguished by a bright golden-yellow color on the dorsal fins, finlets, tail and along the side – hence the name.
Because they are warm blooded, tunas have amazing strength and speed, capable of going from zero to 40 miles per hour in seconds. They feed on a variety of fish including anchovy, mackerel, cuttlefish, squid, shrimp, octopus, larvae stages of lobster and crabs and – because of their size- other tuna. Often traveling in schools, yellowfin prefer warm waters. Their lifespan is only six to seven years, but the females reproduce millions of microscopic-size eggs almost daily.
The yellowfin sold by Delcambre Direct Seafood come from Jensen Tuna out of Houma, LA. From there, fishermen venture into the very deep waters of the Gulf to pull in 80 to 90 pounders.
Yellowfin tuna is low in cholesterol and calories (A 3-oz. filet has 93 calories) and high in niacin (Vitamin B3), and Vitamin B12. Packed with protein, this fish is also low in saturated fat and sodium. It is a good source of magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin B6, selenium, Vitamin-E, thiamin and riboflavin.
While some varieties of tuna have higher mercury levels because of their expansive diet, the Food and Drug Administration categorizes yellowfin as a “good choice.” The recommendation consumption is one 4-ounce serving per week.
When buying tuna, you should look for a bright red color and firm texture. The raw meat should never be brown or pinkish.
Because ahi tuna tends to dry out quickly, it’s best to store it in an air-sealed container, on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.
Fresh tuna should be eaten within two days of purchase, or it can be kept frozen for up to 3 months.
Because of its firm texture, tuna can be prepared many different ways, but it is best pan seared or grilled. The most important thing to remember is not to overcook it. Fully-cooked tuna tends to be dry and tough. To appreciate the unique mild taste, tuna steaks are usually served seared on the outside and rare or medium rare on the inside. When it has a seasoned, crusty sear on the outside and the underdone center is melt-in-your-mouth tender, tuna can be as satisfying as a beef steak.
Six-Minute Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks
By Elizabeth Lindemann
- 2 yellowfin tuna steaks(about 4 oz. each, 1″ thick)
- 2 tbs. soy sauce
- 1 tbs. toasted sesame oil (optional)
- 1 tbs. honey (optional)
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. black pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 tbs. olive oil
- green onions, toasted sesame seeds, and lime wedges for serving (optional)
Pat the fish with a paper towel and set aside. Mix the soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, honey, kosher salt (OMIT salt if marinating for more than a couple hours), pepper and cayenne pepper until honey is fully dissolved. Pour over the ahi tuna steaks and turn over to coat completely. Place in large Ziplock bag and marinate for at least 10 minutes, or overnight in the refrigerator.
Add olive oil to a nonstick pan and get it sizzling hot before laying tuna filets down. Cook thick filets 2 to 3 minutes on each side and thinner ones 1 minute per side. When done, slice fish immediately to stop cooking process. Add green onions, sesame seeds, and lime wedges. You could also drizzle some spicy mayonnaise on top and serve in a rice bowl with asparagus or broccoli.
Add the canola oil to the hot pan. Sear the tuna for 1 – 1½ minutes on each side for medium rare