Ahi Tuna 101

Tuna (Fresh)

Ahi tuna (also called yellowfin) is a popular tuna around the world, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. The ahi tuna can weigh in at over 400 pounds, a size much smaller than its relatives, the Atlantic and Pacific bluefin tuna fish. Most tuna fish, including the ahi tuna, provides a valuable source of nutrients and antioxidants. Like most other fish, the ahi is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients, along with selenium, help to maintain the integrity of cell membranes and may even play a role in slowing the aging process.

Ahi tuna is usually grilled, fried, baked, or consumed raw in sushi. Relatively accessible at most supermarkets and fish markets, the ahi tuna is a great addition to a weekly meal plan. Although tuna can be problematic for pregnant and nursing mothers due to its mercury content, the majority of the healthy population can safely consume wild-caught yellowfin once or twice a week.

Identification

Ahi tuna is often sold in fillets, steaks, and in its whole form. Fillets and steaks have a dark red color, matching the color of the majority of tuna available on the market. In its whole form, yellowfin tuna is flat and has a silver exterior. Most whole yellowfin tuna fish are about two to four feet in length.

Taste

The taste of ahi tuna is similar to other types of tuna, with a slightly salty and mild fishy flavor. Both raw and cooked, ahi is mild in aroma. The texture of ahi tuna is firm and hearty, yet it can be delicate, depending on the cooking method.

Availability

All tuna, including ahi tuna, is widely available at many fish markets and traditional supermarkets. Fish departments at most grocery stores carry ahi tuna in a variety of ways, including fillets and steaks. Also, many grocery stores carry frozen ahi tuna in the frozen food section, often labelled “yellowfin tuna.”

Selection

Yellowfin tuna should have a dark red color with very little discoloration on its flesh. If the tuna looks pink or off-red, it may be wise to find another fillet or steak with a deeper hue. Whole yellowfin should have a bright and vibrant silver coating on its skin, and should have a very mild, non-imposing aroma. Frozen yellowfin tuna are perhaps easier to purchase; however, packaging may sometimes prevent being able to see the product. It is best to choose among wild-caught varieties, both for health purposes and quality assurance.

Organic Benefits

There are no organic certifications for seafood, as all seafood is either wild caught or farm raised. Wild-caught yellowfin is the closest to organic that one can get, as these fish were caught in their natural environment, free from antibiotics, artificial hormones, and manmade feed.

Some yellowfin sold on the market is farm raised. Concerns over farm-raised seafood include chemical contamination, carcinogens, and antibiotics. There is research to suggest that farm-raised seafood contains certain compounds used in the farming practice that may be linked with cancer and antibiotic resistance. Many choose wild-caught yellowfin tuna in order to avoid these contaminants.

Storage

Raw yellowfin tuna will keep in the refrigerator for four days. It is best to keep yellowfin in a sealed plastic storage bag, making sure to release excess air from the bag. Cooked yellowfin will also keep in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for up to three days.

If freezing yellowfin, it is best to use sealed freezer bags to help avoid freezer burn. Frozen yellowfin will keep up to a year or more. Cooked yellowfin will also keep in the freezer for up to three months. It is best to thaw frozen yellowfin in the refrigerator, allowing 24 to 48 hours to completely thaw.

Preparation

A simple way to prepare yellowfin tuna is by poaching, in which the tuna steaks or fillets are cooked in a hot broth or cream mixture. Tuna should be cleaned and thoroughly thawed before poaching. With the poaching method, tuna is placed in a large baking dish alongside herbs, spices, broth, and even wine. Sometimes heavy cream and milk can be added to make a creamy white sauce. The dish is baked until the tuna is cooked, around 15 minutes in a 450˚F oven. During poaching, the flavors in the poaching liquid will be infused into the fish, helping to enhance the dish. Fish can also be poached on the stove in a large, covered skillet.

Yellowfin can also be grilled, cooking each side of the fish for about 2 minutes. Searing is another popular way to prepare yellowfin tuna, and requires the use of a marinade. Tuna should be soaked in a marinade for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator before cooking on a nonstick skillet. Clean, wild-caught “sushi grade” yellowfin tuna can also be sliced into thin strips and used in making sushi, combining it with white rice, nori sheets, and various vegetables.

Nutrition Summary

Protein

Composed of amino acids (building blocks of protein), this essential nutrient aids in the healing of wounds and the growth of hair, skin, and nails; provides a substantial amount of energy and satiation; catalyzes metabolic reactions; and promotes a healthy hormonal and immune system response.

B1 (Thiamine)

Thiamine, or vitamin B1, plays an active role in metabolizing carbohydrates into a useable form of energy. B1 also contributes toward proper nerve function and acts as a coenzyme to convert ketones into other coenzymes necessary for cell metabolism.

B6 (Pyridoxine)

Amino acids and lipids are the main nutrients metabolized by vitamin B6, helping to promote proper energy levels throughout the body. It is also an important aspect of the formation of hemoglobin and neurotransmitters, protecting both the cardiovascular system and brain.

Phosphorus

Provides structural support to DNA and RNA, works with calcium in the formation of tooth enamel and bone, helps to filter wastes out of the kidneys, and regulates energy. Phosphorus also plays an integral role in cardiovascular health and repairing cells and tissues throughout the body.

Selenium

Although commonly described as a mineral, selenium behaves like an antioxidant, helping to reduce the number of free radicals in the body. This may aid in slowing the visible signs of aging, protecting cardiovascular health, and promoting the immune system.

Health Benefits & Medical Claims

Yellowfin tuna is very high in selenium, an antioxidant that plays a crucial role in combating free radicals (unstable molecules). Left alone, free radicals latch onto healthy cells. This process damages healthy cells and produces more free radicals.

Antioxidants minimize damage to healthy cells by stabilizing free radicals. Without antioxidants, free radicals cause excessive damage to cells, accelerating the aging process, potentially altering our DNA, and even contributing to the development of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Eating yellowfin tuna at least twice a week has been correlated with a decrease risk in atrial fibrillation and heart disease. This is especially true when yellowfin tuna is alternated with other oily fish, such as salmon. Many researchers believe the heart-health benefits of fish are associated with its substantial amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

Yellowfin tuna is a highly anti-inflammatory, complete protein food, which is helpful for decreasing the likelihood of heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive decline. Also, anti-inflammatory foods may play a role in decreasing pain and inflammation in muscles and joints.

Little Known Facts
  1. The largest yellowfin tuna ever recorded weighed in at a whopping 880 pounds.
  2. Yellowfin tuna are found in tropical and subtropical waters, yet do not inhabit the Mediterranean Sea.
  3. The yellowfin tuna can travel at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Yoffie Life disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.