The Thing You Learned Today: Tuna

The incredible versatility of tuna has made it a favorite in the kitchens of many a restaurant, from high-grade, no-frills sashimi at Juni to a haute seared and sauced variety at Range to the cans in your cupboard. It should come as no surprise then, to discover that the chicken of the sea is probably the most popular fish in the sea. Odds are you’ve indulged in tuna more than a couple times, but just how much do you know about tuna?

Five fascinating tidbits about tuna, including the different species and more, after the jump.

1. There are eight different species of tuna: albacore, yellowfin, blackfin, southern bluefin, Pacific bluefin, northern bluefin, bigeye and longtail.

2. Albacore is the only type that is legally allowed to be labelled “white meat tuna” in the US. Yellowfin tuna, also known as Ahi, is the most common kind in restaurant kitchens. Blackfin is the smallest tuna. All the varieties of bluefin are severely overfished and on many endangered species lists (see item #5).

3. Unlike just about every other fish, tuna are warm-blooded. This evolutionary trait enables tuna to live in a wide range of water temperatures. It also allows them to reach swimming speeds of 30mph.

4. The reason that tuna meat has so much mercury is that tuna are predatory fish. They eat smaller fish that contain high chemical levels (and aren’t usually eaten by humans). If you are concerned/interested in your weekly mercury intake, check out this online mercury calculator.

5. In January 2007, over 60 countries met to discuss the severe overfishing of the quickly-fading bluefin tuna. Earlier this week, Charles Clover revealed that many high-end chefs persist in serving bluefin tuna and other endangered fishes like Chilean sea bass and red snapper.

What are the different kinds of tuna? [WiseGeek]

Tuna [wikipedia]


The Thing You Learned Today: Tuna