Hello Coccineas! Today we want to talk to you about bluefin tuna, one of the healthiest fish and that for many centuries has been a prominent food in the Mediterranean diet. In addition to its excellent properties, we will teach you how to differentiate it from other species of tuna and the gastronomic importance it has in Spain and in other countries of the world.
Tuna is one of the most versatile foods in the kitchen. The one that is most consumed is the one that comes in a can and can be used in many types of dishes, here you can see five delicious and healthy recipes with tuna that have no waste. But you can also eat fresh tuna, cooked in different ways and even raw.
One of the most valued species is bluefin tuna. All the peoples that have lived on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea have fished and eaten it for thousands of years. More than 30,000 years ago, the men who lived in the caves fished the tuna when they entered through the Strait of Gibraltar in spring. They took advantage of the fact that some specimens were trapped on the beaches while fleeing from the killer whales.
Years later, Greeks, Phoenicians and Romans learned to fish them with nets. Then they began to preserve it in different ways (salted, in oil, etc.) to be able to eat it throughout the year because it was a seasonal fishing. These, in addition, invented the garum, a type of sauce that is made with the remains of the fish and that allowed the army to take it throughout Europe, Asia and Africa during their long journeys, making tuna known around the world.
During the Middle Ages and the Modern Ages, bluefin tuna remained one of the most consumed fish in different ways, whether it was cooked, dried or in brine. Thus, many recipes with tuna like coca, stews, empanada, etc.
How is fishing currently in Spain
Bluefin tuna is a very large and robust fish. They are considered adults when they are around 4 years old and weigh between 25 and 30 kilos. However, in the sea you can find specimens of up to 500-700 kilos and 3 meters in length.
Although its back is deep blue and its belly is gray or silvery white, it is called bluefin tuna for its meat.
The curious thing about this fish is that it adapts perfectly to waters of different temperatures, since it spends seasons in very warm seas such as the Gulf of Mexico or the Mediterranean Sea, but lives and feeds mainly in the Atlantic Ocean. And it is that bluefin tuna always reproduce again in the same places where it was born: a group very close to the Balearic Sea, Sicily, Malta and Cyprus, and another group in the Gulf of Mexico.
Therefore, the tuna season in Spain It is from May to July, because that is when they return to reproduce and at the end of July the adult tunas need to feed, so they return to the Atlantic to spend the rest of the year.
Knowing this, fishermen carry out different types of fishing.
They are used by the passage of tuna through the Strait of Gibraltar to carry out the trap. It is a type of fishing that consists of hooking a set of nets to the bottom of the sea that form a labyrinth, where the tuna enters and remains trapped in a kind of pool, from where the fishermen catch each specimen one by one.
In Spain, this type of fishing is practiced in the Cádiz province, but also in other countries Portugal, Italy or Morocco.
Hook and bait
Tunas are also fished with hook and bait using the longline, pole or hand line. In any case, they use dead or live baits such as mackerel to attract the tuna so that it stays hooked when it goes to eat it.
This type of tuna fishing is used mainly in the north of Spain.
The art of purse seine fishing consists of locating the tuna bank and surround them with a large net forming a circle around them. When the circle is closed, it is stretched at the bottom to close it as if it were a sack.
It is a kind of selective fishing, since only the fish you want is caught and in this way no dolphins, tuna and other small fish are caught. Only the adult tuna.
Properties of bluefin tuna
It is a prominent fish within the Mediterranean diet thanks to the multiple beneficial properties it has for health.
In its composition, the presence of Omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, it is rich in minerals such as selenium, match and the magnesium, and provides different vitamins (A, B, B3, B9, B12 and D). They are also an excellent source of protein of high biological value, exceeding the average of most fish and many meats.
Contains a high content of selenium, superior to other foods. Numerous scientific studies show that this mineral is very beneficial for health, as it is a microelement involved in antioxidant processes and that it neutralizes the harmful effect of mercury. In this article we talk about being careful with mercury in fish, but in the case of bluefin tuna, the amounts found in this fish are well below those legally allowed, despite what is popularly believed.
Uses in the kitchen
In the past, bluefin tuna was cooked and recipes were prepared according to the time of year and the season products. Before refrigerators existed for their conservation, there were only two ways to eat fresh bluefin tuna. The first was to eat it quickly and the second, to make preparations that would preserve it for longer. For example, drying it, keeping it in brine, in oil or in marinade.
Now bluefin tuna in the fridge stays fresh for several days or can be frozen.
When buying it, it is important to bear in mind that bluefin tuna is never sold in a can and its deep red color is your main identification sign. However, it is not always easy to distinguish it, so fishmongers are obliged to have to put labels with the real information about the species caught, its common name, its specific name, where it was fished and with what gear.
Some of the most popular recipes with fresh tuna is the marmitako, the tuna with tomato, the grilled tuna or the tuna with onion.
Good cooks in coastal towns recommend not overcooking tuna so that its flavor can be more appreciated. To the point where in recent years we have begun to eat it raw, just as the japanese. The most common way to eat it raw is preparing a fresh tuna tartare and in different types of sushi, such as sashimi, the niguiris or the makis.
How do you usually eat bluefin tuna? Let us know through the comments and also if there is any recipe with bluefin tuna that you would like us to publish.