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Simple Cooking Tips for Fresh Tuna

by Karren Doll Tolliver

Several types of fish are classified as tuna. Some varieties make great fresh meat entrees. Cooking and serving fresh tuna adds a good source of protein and other nutrients to your family's meals. Armed with some advice about how to buy top quality fresh tuna and how to cook it to its best advantage, you can add fresh tuna to the meal rotation in your household.

Buying

Get to know your local fishmonger, otherwise called a fish shop or seafood shop. A trustworthy fishmonger can assure you that the tuna is fresh and environmentally safe as well. Tuna that is line-caught is better for the environment as opposed to net-caught because dolphins and other wildlife can get caught in nets along with the tuna. Fresh tuna should be firm. Bluefin and yellowfin should have a rich, red color. Albacore will be pale. None of the varieties should smell like fish at all. Purchase tuna in thick steaks that are cross sections of the fish. Steaks over 1 1/2 inches thick stay moister during cooking than thinner steaks. Another option is to purchase a large tuna roast similar in shape to a beef or pork roast.

Raw and Seared

Carve a roast of bluefin or yellowfin, which is also known as ahi tuna, into thin slices without cooking. Serve with wasabi, ginger and soy sauce as sashimi in a sushi meal. Place strips of raw tuna over rolls of sushi rice to make nigiri for a sushi meal. Alternatively, roll the entire tuna roast in sesame seeds and sear for a minute or two on all six sides in a very hot iron skillet. Slice the seared tuna into thin slices and serve with the same sushi condiments or a spicy sauce.

Grilled

Tuna steaks are best for grilling. Do not wash the steaks. Rather, pat them dry with paper towels. Marinate them in a creamy dressing if you like, or keep the flavor light by brushing with olive oil and seasoning mix. Grill on medium-high to high temperature for up to two minutes per side. The steaks will turn grayish tan to brownish and flake easily when done. Take them off the grill immediately. Any slight overcooking will cause the steaks to be very dry. Another good grilling technique for fresh tuna is to remove the skin and cube the meat. Slide the cubes onto skewers along with vegetables such as onions, cherry tomatoes or pepper chunks. Season and grill as kabobs.

Fried or Baked

Prepare fresh tuna steaks by patting them dry. Season with a little olive oil, lemon juice and a pinch of your choice of spices. Fry in a skillet on medium-high to high heat. Turn the steaks after two minutes and remove completely after four minutes. Never overcook fresh tuna, as it can become very dry and unpleasant. Alternatively, wrap the seasoned fresh tuna in foil that you have brushed with vegetable oil. Bake in the oven for up to 15 minutes until cooked through and flaky.

About the Author

Karren Doll Tolliver holds a Bachelor of English from Mississippi University for Women and a CELTA teaching certificate from Akcent Language School in Prague. Also a photographer, she records adventures by camera, combining photos with journals in her blogs. Her latest book, "A Travel for Taste: Germany," was published in 2015.

Photo Credits

  • John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images