How to Cook Tuna
If you’ve ever had a tuna burger or a freshly grilled tuna steak, you know that fresh tuna is just as versatile as, and even more satisfying, than canned tuna. It can be almost as simple to make as long as you know a few things about how to prepare it.
Buying Fresh Tuna 101
Tuna season here on the east coast is typically between late spring and early fall. That is the best time to pick up fresh tuna from your local fishmonger. You can find frozen tuna year-round.
This member of the mackerel family is a sustainable choice because they reproduce quickly. Albacore tuna is the most sustainable type of tuna. If you are in the market for albacore tuna, it is wise to call your local fishmonger ahead to make sure it is available due to its popularity.
When you are purchasing tuna, there are a few things to know:
- Fresh tuna is cut into hearty steaks that are already skinned.
- A 4 or 5-ounce steak will feed one person.
- Tuna steaks range in color from light pink to a dark reddish-brown.
- Cook fresh tuna the same day that you buy it for the best taste. If you cannot cook it that day, store it in the freezer until you are ready to make it.
- 1-pound of frozen tuna will usually need to thaw for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.
How to Season Fresh Tuna
To prepare tuna for seasoning or for a marinade, run cool water over it and then pat it dry with a paper towel. This will help it absorb the flavor.
Tuna is a great fish to marinade because it has a mild taste and absorbs the flavor of marinades very well. It pairs especially well with Asian flavors like sesame seed, ginger, and teriyaki. You don’t need to marinade tuna overnight. You can let it marinade for as little as 15 minutes or long as 4 hours.
If you don’t have time for a marinade, brush it with melted butter or olive oil and a dash of citrus juice. Then sprinkle it with salt, pepper and any other seasoning of your choice.
How to Prepare Tuna at Home
Much like a good beef steak, tuna does not have to be cooked all the way through. The key to making perfect tuna at home is nicely searing both sides and keeping an eye on it. You don’t want it to stay on the heat too long. You want your tuna steaks to be moist and tender, not dry and chewy.
The thickness of the tuna steaks determines how long you should cook them. If you are baking them in the oven at 450 degrees F or grilling them over medium heat, it will take 4 to 6 minutes per ½-inch of thickness. If you are making them in a skillet over medium-high heat, it will take about 6 to 9 minutes for a ¾-inch steak.
No matter which method you choose, try to only turn over the steaks once. When the steaks flake after being tested by a fork, you will know they are done.
After you remove the steaks from the heat, brush them with melted butter, olive oil or extra marinade, then serve.
If you follow these simple instructions, you will be able to cook tuna to perfection at home. Stop by our seafood counter to pick up tuna steaks for dinner tonight!