Tuna as Food: How to Cook, Store, and Enjoy It

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  May 28, 2022

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A tuna is a saltwater finfish that belongs to the tribe Thunnini, a sub-grouping of the mackerel family (Scombridae) – which together with the tunas, also includes the bonitos, mackerels, and Spanish mackerels. Thunnini comprises fifteen species across five genera.

What is tuna

Everything You Need to Know About Tuna

Tuna is a type of fish that is widely eaten as a fresh seafood all over the world. It is a large fish that can be found in different types and varieties, depending on the ocean and the country where it is caught. Tuna consists of a powerful body that is built to swim long distances in the water, making it one of the most powerful fish in the ocean.

Types of Tuna

There are different types of tuna that are commonly found in the market, including Skipjack, Albacore, and Yellowfin. These types of tuna vary in size, with Skipjack being the smallest and Yellowfin being the biggest. Each type of tuna has a different taste and texture, with Albacore having a sweet and pronounced flavor, while Yellowfin has a stronger taste.

Storing Tuna

Storing tuna is important to keep it fresh and safe to eat. Tuna can be stored in different forms, including sliced into small strips or cut into larger pieces. The way tuna is stored depends on the particular type of tuna and the goal of the person looking to sell it. Tuna can be stored in excess of 6 months if stored effectively.

Sustainable Tuna

Sustainable tuna is becoming increasingly important in the seafood industry. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) supports efforts to increase sustainable tuna fishing practices, and many expert companies and technical sectors are focused on creating sustainable tuna fishing gear. Sustainable tuna fishing sets a standard for the industry and helps to limit the influence of excess fishing on the ocean’s ecosystem.

How to Eat Tuna

Tuna can be eaten in many different ways, depending on the type of tuna and the desired end result. Some common ways to eat tuna include:

  • Sliced raw as sashimi or in sushi rolls
  • Grilled or seared as a main dish
  • Canned and used in sandwiches or salads

When eating tuna, it is important to follow basic food safety guidelines and to ensure that the tuna is cooked to a safe temperature.

Get to Know Your Tuna: A Guide to Different Types of Tuna

  • Albacore: This type of tuna is commonly found in canned tuna and is known for its mild flavor and firm texture. It is also relatively high in fat content, which contributes to its sweet taste. Albacore is a great choice for those who prefer a milder taste.
  • Bigeye: This species of tuna is commonly found in restaurants and is known for its large size and meaty texture. It has a higher fat content than other species, which makes it a great choice for those who want a richer flavor.
  • Bluefin: This is the most expensive and highly prized species of tuna. It is commonly found in high-end restaurants and is known for its remarkable taste and texture. Bluefin tuna is generally described as having a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a pronounced flavor.
  • Skipjack: This is the most commonly found species of tuna and is often used in canned tuna. It has a lower fat content than other species, which means it has a milder taste. Skipjack is a great choice for those who want a more affordable option.
  • Yellowfin: This species of tuna is commonly found in Western cuisine and is known for its versatility. It has a firm texture and a mild flavor, which means it can be used in a variety of dishes. Yellowfin is a great choice for those who want a lot of options.

The Differences in Taste and Texture

The taste and texture of tuna can vary depending on the species and how it is prepared. Here are some things to consider:

  • Albacore has a mild flavor and firm texture, which makes it a great choice for those who prefer a milder taste.
  • Bigeye has a meaty texture and a richer flavor, which makes it a great choice for those who want a more pronounced taste.
  • Bluefin has a buttery, melt-in-your-mouth texture and a pronounced flavor, which makes it a great choice for those who want a remarkable taste.
  • Skipjack has a milder taste and a softer texture, which makes it a great choice for those who want a more affordable option.
  • Yellowfin has a firm texture and a mild flavor, which makes it a great choice for those who want a lot of options.

The Best Ways to Enjoy Different Types of Tuna

Depending on the species, there are different ways to prepare and enjoy tuna. Here are some ideas:

  • Albacore is great for making tuna salad or sandwiches.
  • Bigeye is perfect for searing or grilling and can be enjoyed as a steak.
  • Bluefin is best enjoyed raw as sushi or sashimi.
  • Skipjack is commonly used in canned tuna and can be used in a variety of dishes.
  • Yellowfin is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from seared tuna to tuna poke bowls.

The Misconception About Tuna

There is a common misconception that all tuna is high in mercury. While certain species of tuna, such as bluefin, can have higher levels of mercury, other species, such as skipjack, have lower levels. It’s important to know the mercury content of the tuna you are consuming and to limit your intake accordingly.

The Final Verdict

In short, there are plenty of different types of tuna to choose from, each with their own unique taste and texture. Depending on what you’re looking for, there is a tuna species that will suit your preferences. Whether you’re a fan of the mild taste of albacore or the remarkable taste of bluefin, there is a tuna out there that will satisfy your cravings. So go ahead and let your taste buds guide you in choosing the perfect piece of tuna!

The Tuna’s Etymology: A Fishy Compound Word Possessing Affixed Derivations

Tuna, as a word, has a rich history of being borrowed, assimilated, and derived from various languages. One of the most significant influences on the word “tuna” is the Arabic language. The Andalusian Arabic word “at-tūn” meaning “tuna fish” was assimilated into Spanish as “atún.” This term was then borrowed into English and other languages.

The Latin Connection

Another significant influence on the word “tuna” is the Latin language. The Middle Latin term “thunnus” was used to refer to the fish. This term was then assimilated into various languages, including Spanish and English.

The Walter Museum Archaeology Journal

In the Walter Museum Archaeology Journal, there was an issue that discussed the etymology of the word “tuna.” The journal explained that the word “tuna” is a compound word that possesses affixed derivations. The first part of the word “tu” is believed to have originated from the Arabic word “tūn,” while the second part of the word “na” is believed to have originated from the Latin word “thunnus.”

The Possessive Form

Interestingly, the word “tuna” can also be used in the possessive form. For example, “tuna’s flavor” or “tuna’s texture.” This usage is not common, but it is still grammatically correct.

Mastering the Art of Cooking Tuna

Before you start cooking, it’s essential to choose the right tuna. Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Choose fresh tuna with a natural red color.
  • Check the thickness of the tuna. Thicker cuts are better for grilling or searing, while thinner cuts are perfect for pan-frying or simmering.
  • Remember to measure the internal temperature of the tuna to ensure it’s fully cooked.

Preparing the Tuna

Once you’ve chosen the right tuna, it’s time to prepare it for cooking:

  • Remove any excess moisture by patting the tuna dry with a paper towel.
  • Slice the tuna into even portions to ensure it cooks evenly.
  • If needed, season the tuna with salt and ground black pepper.

Sauces and Sides

While tuna is delicious on its own, adding a sauce or side can take it to the next level:

  • A simple soy sauce and ginger sauce is a nice addition to grilled or seared tuna.
  • A simmered tomato sauce is perfect for pan-fried tuna.
  • Serve the tuna with a side of steamed vegetables or a fresh salad to balance out the dish.

Serving and Storing

Once the tuna is cooked, it’s time to serve and store it:

  • Let the tuna cool for a few minutes before slicing it.
  • Serve the tuna with your chosen sauce and side.
  • Store any leftover tuna in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Remember, cooking tuna takes practice, but with this guide, you’ll be able to cook the perfect tuna every time.

Tuna Dishes: A Dive into the Ocean of Deliciousness

  • Tekkadon: A traditional Japanese dish consisting of a bowl of steamed white rice topped with raw tuna sashimi and a mixture of finely chopped onion and seaweed. It’s a staple food in Japan and commonly served for breakfast.
  • Tuna Donburi: A type of donburi (rice bowl dish) that consists of a bed of rice topped with cooked tuna and vegetables simmered in a savory sauce. It’s a main dish commonly found in Japanese restaurants and sold as a quick and easy dinner option.
  • Tuna Sushi: A popular type of sushi that is composed of a small piece of raw tuna placed on top of a ball of seasoned rice. It’s typically served with wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger on the side.

Tuna Dishes from Around the World

  • Tuna Salad: A cold dish made from canned or cooked tuna mixed with mayonnaise, chopped vegetables, and other ingredients. It’s a common lunch option and can be found in many countries around the world.
  • Tuna Casserole: A hot dish consisting of a mixture of canned tuna, vegetables, and a creamy sauce baked in a casserole dish. It’s a classic American comfort food and a favorite among families.
  • Tuna Sandwich: A simple sandwich made with canned or cooked tuna mixed with mayonnaise and other ingredients, such as celery and onion. It’s a quick and easy lunch option and can be found in many cafes and restaurants.
  • Tuna Patties: Ground tuna meat mixed with various ingredients, such as breadcrumbs, egg, and spices, formed into small cakes and pan-fried until crispy. It’s a complete meal that needs no extra sides and is a good way to convert non-tuna lovers into fans.
  • Maldivian Tuna Curry: A traditional dish from the Maldives consisting of canned skipjack tuna cooked in a spicy curry sauce with onions and chili. It’s a staple food in the country and commonly served with rice.
  • Cakalang Fufu: A smoked tuna delicacy from the Minahasan cuisine in Indonesia. The tuna is cured with salt and spices, then smoked over a fire. It’s commonly served with rice and chili sauce.
  • Gulha: A Maldivian breakfast dish consisting of small balls of dough filled with canned tuna and spices, then deep-fried until crispy. It’s a popular street food in the country.
  • Tuna Melt: A sandwich made with canned or cooked tuna mixed with mayonnaise and topped with cheese, then broiled until the cheese is melted and bubbly. It’s a classic American diner food and a favorite among sandwich lovers.
  • Tuna Pot: A hot pot dish from the Philippines consisting of canned tuna cooked with vegetables and other ingredients in a pot. It’s a complete meal that’s easy to prepare and perfect for a cozy dinner at home.

Tips and Notes

  • When buying canned tuna, look for the “dolphin-safe” label to ensure that the product was produced without harming dolphins.
  • Tuna is a versatile ingredient that can be used in many dishes, both hot and cold.
  • Tuna is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, making it a healthy addition to any diet.
  • Tuna can be found in many languages, such as Spanish (atún), French (thon), and Italian (tonno).
  • The reason why tuna is referred to as the “chicken of the sea” is because of its mild flavor and versatility in cooking.
  • Tuna is a big business, with the global tuna industry worth billions of dollars.
  • Tuna is a key ingredient in many cuisines around the world, from Japanese to Italian to American.
  • Tuna can be cooked in many ways, such as grilled, baked, or fried.
  • Tuna can be found in many forms, such as fresh, frozen, canned, and smoked.

Keeping Your Tuna Fresh: Tips for Proper Storage

Before storing your tuna, it’s important to prepare it properly. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Place tuna steaks in a single layer or stack them between paper towels.
  • Cover with another paper towel to absorb any excess moisture.
  • Seal the tuna steaks in a food protection container.

Using Leftover Tuna

If you have leftover tuna, here are some ideas for using it up:

  • Make a tuna salad by mixing the tuna with mayonnaise, celery, and onion.
  • Use the tuna in a sandwich or wrap.
  • Add the tuna to a pasta dish or salad for added protein.

Remember, always use your best judgement when it comes to food safety. If your tuna smells or looks off, it’s better to be safe than sorry and throw it out.

Is Tuna Really a Healthy Food?

Tuna is a popular food that is widely available in different types. It is a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, including B-Complex vitamins, Vitamins A and D, iron, selenium, and phosphorus. Tuna also contains healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. With all these nutrients, it’s no wonder why many people believe that tuna is a healthy food. However, there are certain risks and effects associated with its consumption that people should be aware of.

The Risks of Eating Tuna

While tuna is generally considered a healthful food, it can cause harm if consumed in excess. Some of the risks associated with eating too much tuna include:

  • Mercury content: Tuna is known to contain high levels of mercury, a heavy metal that can be harmful to the body, especially in large amounts. Pregnant women and individuals with certain medical conditions are advised to limit their consumption of tuna to reduce the risk of developing harmful effects related to mercury exposure.
  • Excess omega-3 intake: While omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the body, consuming too much of them can cause adverse effects such as an increased risk of bleeding, especially for individuals taking blood-thinning medications.
  • Canned tuna risks: Canned tuna, while convenient and popular, may contain added salt and preservatives that can be harmful to some individuals. Additionally, some brands may contain lower-quality tuna or even other types of fish.

Managing and Conserving Tuna Populations: A Scientific Approach

  • Tuna is a highly valuable fish in the market, making it a target for overfishing.
  • Management and conservation are necessary to ensure the sustainability of tuna populations.
  • Without proper management, tuna populations could decline, affecting not only the fishing industry but also the marine ecosystem.

Current Management and Conservation Efforts

  • The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) are two of the main organizations responsible for managing and conserving tuna populations.
  • These organizations collect data on the number, size, and growth of tuna populations in different areas.
  • They set limits on the amount of catch allowed and establish fishing seasons to prevent overfishing.
  • The IATTC has extended its management efforts to include other scombrid species, such as mackerel.

Scientific Research and Data Collection

  • Scientific research is crucial in achieving effective management and conservation of tuna populations.
  • The Bertalanffy growth trait is used to estimate the maximum size and growth rate of tuna populations.
  • The IATTC collects data on the spawning batch size and frequency of different tuna species.
  • The Von Bertalanffy growth model is used to estimate the growth of different tuna species.
  • The IATTC also uses acoustic surveys to estimate the number of tuna in a given area.

Conservation Gaps and Future Directions

  • Despite existing management efforts, there are still gaps in our understanding of tuna populations.
  • The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is working to address these gaps by collecting more data on tuna populations in the Indian Ocean.
  • The IATTC is also working to improve taxonomic identification of different tuna species.
  • The IATTC is also looking to establish limits on the catches of tropical tunas, such as skipjack and yellowfin, which are currently not included in the main stock assessments.
  • The IATTC is also considering the importance of maintaining consistent data collection methods and values across different areas to ensure accurate population estimates.
  • The IATTC is also looking to establish limits on catches of mackerels, which are often caught alongside tuna.


So, that’s why tuna is a great food to eat. It’s a fish, and people have been doing that for a long time. 

It’s good for you, it’s delicious, and you can eat it in so many different ways. So, don’t be afraid to try some tuna now and then. You might just find your new favorite food!

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.