You know, it’s easy to forget sometimes that we, as a nation, are incredibly well placed at the edge of the Atlantic to take advantage of some pretty incredible seafood. And one such treasure from the sea is tuna. Many an Irish person is of the opinion that tuna is some kind of tropical fish which primarily arrives on our tables and in our lunch boxes via a tin and can opener, but the reality is that tuna is abundant off our coast at certain times of the year. Interestingly Ireland has the potential to tap into ‘big game fishing’ as a small industry, as I believe catching a tuna with rod and line is possibly the greatest fishing challenge of all.
There are many different species of tuna which range in size from around the size of a salmon all the way through to the great blue fin. The Albacore tuna is available in Ireland around October and really is spectacular to eat when fresh. In fact Gannet fishmongers (trading at most of the Galway markets including the Saturday city market ) had some fine examples of Albacore tuna for sale. Tuna is unusual as a fish in that it is warm blooded; due to this the tuna must continuously swim at speed in order to keep a high amount of oxygen flowing over their gills and keep their blood well oxygenated. This leads to the tuna developing very high muscle content and makes the tuna’s flesh distinctive from most other fish species in that the flesh is almost meat-like. Indeed it’s best to treat tuna, when cooking, as a lean red meat. Cooking the flesh pink or medium is best, and overcooking is ill advised as the meat becomes grey and very dry. The Japanese prize tuna and have three main cuts used in sushi and sashimi, being akami or lean, this makes up most of the fish; chu-toro means medium fat; and finally o-toro, big fat, which is just like a top class well marbled steak, and bear in mind fish fats are good for you.
To make a nice tuna steak, simply follows the rules below.
First ensure the fish is as fresh as possible and cut the steaks thick, at least one inch. Heat a griddle top until very hot, brush the fish with a little oil before cooking. Also do not season until after cooking as the salt will draw out moisture; this will prevent the fish searing well. Carefully place the fish onto the grill top and cook for around three minutes. Don’t move the fish or you will not obtain a lovely grill mark on the fish. Turn the fish and repeat the process. Remove from the heat and serve.
Marinated tomato salad
A great accompaniment to go with your fresh tuna, this is a real treat of a salad. Simply crush one clove of garlic and mix with 50 ml balsamic vinegar, season and mix together well. Add 100ml extra virgin olive oil then slice five ripe vine tomatoes and mix with the dressing, toss together, and finish with a little freshly shredded basil.