Tuna is one of the most popular fish in the world, famed for its versatility and nutritional value.
Each whole tuna fish can provide a lot of meat, with the biggest ones growing up to 15 feet in length and over 2000 lbs in weight!
This means that tuna is usually widely available, although some species are becoming endangered due to overfishing.
Many people are shocked to discover the true size of an adult tuna, since their only experience of tuna may be packed in tiny cans of brine.
Tuna is mainly eaten in the form of canned flakes (e.g. in sandwiches or salads), or as steaks – bluefin tuna is a particularly prized steak that is very expensive to eat in restaurants.
In both cases, the meat will be cooked first but may be consumed cold.
However, tuna is sometimes also eaten raw. This is mostly the case in Japan, where it is commonly used as a sushi ingredient.
Even if you are familiar with cooked tuna, you may be wondering what raw tuna tastes like, and that’s a fair question – after all, it is significantly different from cooked tuna to be notable.
Therefore, it can be difficult to know whether you would want to go ahead and try it or not. In this article, we will endeavor to describe the taste, as well as give you some more interesting information about this delicacy.
Raw Tuna Vs Cooked Tuna Taste Comparison
As mentioned above, raw and cooked tuna taste different from each other, as do tuna steaks and canned tuna. It’s quite fascinating how much the same food can vary just depending on how it’s prepared.
Tuna from a can has a very fishy, salty taste (since it’s kept in brine). It is also likely to have been overcooked during preparation to preserve it better, which is why it can taste dry on its own.
Fresh tuna steaks should be cooked for a shorter amount of time overall, as you want them to maintain that appealing red color in the middle and not fall apart until you dig in.
Raw tuna has a far milder taste than its cooked counterpart – it is often considered a more ‘authentic’ taste, according to what fish connoisseurs have to say.
The oily skin and flesh are reflected in the overall taste, and they help provide the seafood vibe that we all know and love.
However, the taste is milder than other fish, and it can be described as slightly buttery. It is more akin to red meats than to general fish, so you might even think you were eating a beefsteak.
One of the most noticeable characteristics of both raw and cooked tuna is their respective texture.
Although it pertains to the sense of feel rather than taste, it can actually contribute to how your mouth perceives the food overall. Cooked tuna steaks have a thick, meaty feel to them, and they are quite chewy to get through.
Tuna in cans is flaky and crumbles when you take it out. On its own, this tuna is likely to fall apart, so it is often mixed with something (e.g. mayonnaise) to hold the pieces together.
Tuna mayonnaise is a popular sandwich filling but is also found accompanying baked potatoes or in a salad. Canned tuna can last for many years,
Raw tuna has a firmer texture that feels more like a delicious beef steak when you bite into it. It is not quite as chewy, but it is somehow meatier.
For this reason, as well as the taste, tuna is often known as ‘the beef of the sea’. It also melts in your mouth in the same way, giving a pleasing sensation.
Of course, some of the texture is dependent on the quality of the steak, as not all tuna steaks are made equal. Tuna is ranked in grades based on its quality: these are #1, #2+, #2, and #3.
Grade #3 is not suitable for eating raw and will have a coarser, perhaps grainier texture than higher grades.
Why Does Tuna Taste Different from Other Fish?
We have already noted that tuna doesn’t have the regular taste you think of when it comes to fish – most other fish tastes more or less similar, but you can definitely tell when you’re eating tuna.
This is because tuna fish are partly warm-blooded, and they are caught in warmer waters than fish such as salmon.
The flesh of a tuna is pink or red, whereas most fish have white flesh. This is due to the higher levels of oxygen in their blood, which helps them swim long distances.
The myoglobin that is found in the muscles and binds with oxygen is what creates the dark red color. It also has an effect on the flavor, because it is full of iron and makes the tuna taste slightly sweet.
Best Tuna For Eating Raw
There are many species of tuna, each with its own unique taste and properties. Most tuna can be eaten raw, provided that it is graded highly enough.
Bluefin, albacore, skipjack, and yellowfin are all excellent options, and #1 is the ideal grade because it has the purest meat (although #2+ and #2 can also be eaten raw without any issues).
There are also different tuna cuts that are served at restaurants: maguro comes from the top and back of the tuna, chu-toro from the lower belly, and o-toro from the lower neck.
These are in order of least fatty and expensive to most fatty and expensive cuts, so it will depend both on your budget and how fatty you like your fish to be.
How To Eat Raw Tuna
Most of the time, raw tuna is seen in Japanese cuisine, specifically in sushi and sashimi. This means that you are likely to find it served in Japanese restaurants around the world, as well as in the country itself.
It can either be served completely raw or slightly seared. If you want to make your own raw tuna sushi, have a look at this recipe for step-by-step instructions.
Raw tuna is a delicacy enjoyed in many countries, particularly Japan. It has a meaty taste that is far less fishy than a lot of fish, in that it is milder and sweeter.
The diet and habitat of tuna contribute to its unique taste, as well as the myoglobin in the muscles that helps these fish swim over long distances.
All types of tuna have the potential to be eaten raw – it is mostly the grade of each particular tuna steak that affects how it will taste raw.
Even if not completely raw, most tuna steaks will be served seared or not fully cooked, since it starts to lose their succulent flavor the more it is cooked. Why not try this new taste experience today?