Yellowfin tuna are one of the hardest fighting species in the Gulf of Mexico. Miles off of the coast, in the pelagic, blue water, they gather in large schools around oil platforms and refineries. Only the strongest tackle can handle these 100-200 lb beasts. I have had the opportunity to fish for tuna in the Gulf of Mexico only once in my life. It was the only time I’ve woken up barely able to move following a day of fishing.
It was a unique experience venturing 70 miles offshore in a 46-foot Yellowfin. Travelling at 50 mph over 2-3 foot seas felt like coasting over calm waters. We started off by trolling around a platform, and I watched yellow, beetle-bug-size fish break the surface in full flight. After pulling a 24 hour shift, powered by turkey sandwiches and Red Bull, we horsed in 50 blackfin and two yellowfin. I was left with black bruises under both arms from the constant jigging and fighting, but rewarded with ten, one-gallon zip-locks full of tuna meat.
Up until that point, I had never attempted to eat tuna, aside from the canned version. Additionally, I had a fear of rare fish meat. I decided it would be fine to cook it just like any other fish. I promptly seared it on the grill until it is completely cooked through. Twenty minutes later, it tasted disgusting. I couldn’t fathom why this game-fish was so popular to eat. It was like chewing a door mat with the taste of dark, fishy blood meat.
This led me to a quick search on the internet. It always provides answers. If the rating is 4 stars or more, it has to be good. I started by trimming all of the meat, carefully removing any dark blood lines. I froze the fillets and thawed them to kill any harmful contaminates. Over time, it became blatantly obvious that the tuna was best cooked fresh, and seared at high temperatures on each side, leaving a red center.
As one of the oil rich fish in the ocean, tuna has plenty of health benefits. Unfortunately, it also carries the risk of higher heavy metal content. If eaten in moderation, it can be a healthy way to enjoy seafood. I came across this recipe one day, made a few tweaks of my own, and have never cooked tuna differently since. Every so often, we enjoy this dish with a glass of red wine and a side of Modern Family.
Share your experience below!
Ahi Tuna Salad
Prep time: 2 hours / Cook time: 7 minutes / Serves: 3-4 people
3-4 cups of spinach, stems removed (basically a store-bought salad bag)
1 lb Tuna fillets (2-3 inches thick)
1/4 cup Soy sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup of olive oil (will need with two different steps)
1/4 cup Balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing
1/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp Cajun Seasoning (optional)
1 lime, squeezed juice
Important: Wash hands well and keep surfaces sanitized when handling raw fish. I prefer to chop greens and lime before handling any raw fish or meat.
Directions: Fresh yellowfin tuna with good red color works best. Quality of the fish makes a noticeable difference in this recipe. It is worth paying the extra few dollars per pound. Marinade fillets in mixture of soy sauce, balsamic vinaigrette, Worcestershire, minced garlic, squeezed lime juice, Cajun seasoning and cilantro. Place this in a plastic bag or tupperware and rotate it every thirty minutes in the refrigerator. Repeat for 1-2 hours. Don’t over marinade. Place the tuna on the counter at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. This avoids any issue with serving tuna with the center too cold, and ensures the right browned crust on the outside. Once ready, heat skillet with a thin layer of olive oil at medium-high heat. Give the skillet time to evenly heat before placing the tuna fillet on the surface. You want the oil to be rippling with heat, but not smoking. Save the marinade!!! Cook for 90 seconds on each side, adjust time with fillet thickness. The more rare the better. Once seared, slice tuna into thin strips. Place on bed on spinach. In separate sauce pan, add 2 tbsp olive oil to the marinade and reduce the mixture for 2-4 minutes over medium heat. Pour this over tuna and spinach. Enjoy!
Comment below and share your experience with this dish!