Let’s face it. We are all obsessed with tuna. Whether it is served as a coveted delicacy as sashimi, or as a quick snack straight from the can, tuna is a very versatile fish that goes well with almost anything. Because of that, it is no wonder that tuna is the most consumed fish in the world.
Despite tuna’s popularity, only a handful of us know that there are actually different types of tuna. Each variety has its own distinct taste and commercial use. There are 14 species of tuna, but only four of them stand out from the crowd. These are the bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack, and albacore.
White or Light
Tuna, commercially speaking, can be classified into white or light.
The only member of the white category is the albacore. The meat is distinguishably white to pinkish light. White tuna also has a milder ‘fishy’ flavor and a firmer texture.
Light tuna includes the other three species, namely the bluefin, yellowfin, and skipjack. Their meat has a darker hue compared to albacore. It is more flavorful, and has a softer texture.
The Big Four Albacore Tuna
This kind of tuna is often chunked and used in white-canned tuna products, which is more expensive compared to the light-canned variety. It is considered healthier since it contains three times more omega 3, which has numerous health benefits.
Albacore tuna, just like most tuna species, can be enjoyed as sashimi. Also, because of its mild flavor, it goes perfectly well with salads and can be a great appetizer.
The Bluefin tuna is considered to be the most prized catch among the four. It is one of the largest species of tuna, and compared to other tunas, it contains more fat, making it more delicious. It is used as a top grade sashimi, and is a luxury food item in Japan. The most expensive one ever recorded pitched a price of a staggering £130 million.
Regrettably, Bluefin tuna is the most vulnerable of all tunas. It matures and grows more slowly, thus, it is more susceptible to overfishing compared to skipjacks or albacores. Today, strict limits are being implemented in the harvest of bluefins to help the specie recover from population pressure.
The yellowfin tuna is a cheaper alternative to bluefin. Although it contains less fat, it is almost as good. It is much easier to get your hands on a yellowfin, and is available on most supermarkets and grocery stores.
Yellowfins would also make a decent sashimi and steak. It also goes well with some other tuna recipes.
The skipjack is the smallest of all the four species. It is named so because of its tendency to jump out of the water while feeding. It is mainly caught near the surface and is the most abundant and prolific. Unlike the previously mentioned tunas that take a significant time to mature, the skipjack is a fast-growing variety. It matures in just a year and only lives around 4-5 years. These characteristics make the skipjack a commercially viable specie.
Skipjack is used in light-canned tuna products, and is less expensive than albacore. In Japan, it is used to make dried bonito, a popular Japanese ingredient in making fish broths and other fish-based products.