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Ahi Tuna

Ahi Tuna
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Ahi Tuna

What’s generally sold as ahi tuna is the meat of the yellowfin tuna, which is named for the fish’s signature bright yellow fins. Ahi, the Hawaiian name for the fish, is one of the largest species of tuna. It can grow to more than 300 pounds, but it’s a lightweight compared to the bluefin tuna, which can tip the scale at more than 1,000 pounds. Bluefin tuna is now considered so overfished that it’s nearly extinct, but yellowfin remains a sustainable seafood choice. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, it’s best to buy yellowfin tuna that has been caught by “troll” or by “pole-and-line” – these fishing methods are less likely to harm the endangered species that swim among tuna.

  • Judging freshness. When choosing ahi, always look for firm, moist flesh that’s deep red in color. It should have a clean, fresh smell. If the aroma is at all fishy, the tuna is past its prime. Ahi that’s marked “sashimi-grade” indicates the best quality. It’s considered the freshest and contains the highest fat content. You’ll definitely want to splurge on sashimi-grade tuna when you’re planning to serve it raw.
  • Storing at home. Like all fresh fish, ahi is best used the day it is purchased. If you must store it for a day or two (please, no more than that!) be sure to wrap it in a paper towel, then plastic wrap. Store in the coldest part of your refrigerator, usually at the rear of the bottom shelf.
Ahi Tuna

Think of ahi as the baby bear of tunas – not too strong, not too mild, just right. Ahi is more flavorful than albacore, but not as assertive as bigeye tuna. It has a fairly firm texture and moderate oil content. It’s most often served raw or just seared on the outside. Overcooking ahi will destroy its supple texture and oceanic flavor.

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