Tuna: What kind of fish is it? And how to cook it?

From frying it, grilling it to cooking it in the oven

Tuna is very popular as a tasty snack, in a salad or on a sandwich. You can buy tuna both fresh and canned, but fresh is always better.

This summery, meaty fish can be cooked in many ways. You can fry it, grill it on the barbecue or cook it in the oven. You can also eat the fish raw, Japanese style, or in a Niçoise salad. Read more about this tasty fish in this article.

Tonijn tataki met sesamzaad
Tuna Tataki with sesam seeds and cucumber rolls


Chapter 1

What kind of fish is tuna?

Tuna belongs to the mackerel family and is a predatory fish. It eats other animals such as squid, krill, small fish, shellfish, octopuses and herrings. They can eat up to a third of their own weight in a day.

There are different types of tuna. The bluefin tuna, the largest and best-known species, can grow up to 4.5 meters long, weigh more than 600 kg and live up to 40 years. Other species include yellowfin tuna, bigeye tuna and albacore tuna.

Tuna steak

Tuna are large fish that can also swim very fast. The bluefin tuna can even reach a speed of 70 km per hour. It’s one of the fastest fish in the world.

Its meat has a pinkish color because it has many veins and arteries that carry blood and oxygen throughout their body. This is also a reason why the tuna can swim very fast.

Tuna only have young once a year. The female tuna lays 10 million eggs, of which unfortunately very few survive. Because they are so popular, they are also threatened by overfishing, with the result that the number of bluefin tuna in particular has decreased.

Chapter 2

Where does tuna come from?

Tuna can be found all year round in the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean Seas. In the spring and summer they move northwards and sometimes occur in the North Sea.

Bluefin tuna is also caught off the coast of the northeastern United States and on the coast of southern Spain. The tuna goes to the largest fish market in Tokyo and is flown from there to other parts of the world.

Chapter 3

How does tuna taste?

Tuna tastes a bit like meat and also has the same color. Tuna fillets are therefore also called tuna steaks. A nickname for the tuna is ‘steak of the sea’.

Chapter 4

Is it healthy?

Tuna is an excellent source of healthy protein that’s necessary for building and repairing muscle in your body.

This fish is also packed with unsaturated fats that provide your body with energy for a longer period of time and ensure the production of hormones. It also contains omega 3 fatty acids, although to a lesser extent than in other oily fish such as herring and mackerel. Omega 3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, improve brain functions and also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Tuna also has vitamins and minerals such as vitamins B3, A and D, potassium and phosphorus. Vitamin B3 helps the body convert food into energy. Vitamin A ensures healthy skin and teeth and vitamin D ensures good bones. Potassium helps regulate fluid balance and blood pressure in the body and phosphorus gives strength to bones and teeth.

Be careful with the mercury in tuna. Mercury is unhealthy, especially for pregnant women. It’s recommended to eat tuna in moderation.

Tuna fillet

Chapter 5

Can you eat tuna raw?

In Japanese cuisine, tuna is eaten raw as sushi and sashimi. Raw fish must be very fresh. Fresh yellowfin or bluefin tuna will appear soft pink, red or dark red.

Fresh tuna should smell fresh. If the smell is pungent and very fishy, it’s not fresh tuna. If the tuna has rainbow or oily colors or if there are white spots in the flesh, the fish is old.

Chapter 6

Wat is sashimi?

Tuna is one of the famous fish served as sashimi. Sashimi is a dish where thinly sliced raw fish is served in portions of five slices or pieces.

Sashimi literally means ‘pierced body’. The dish is traditionally served on finely chopped daikon, sometimes with pickled ginger and a shiso leaf. The fish is dipped in shoyu (a salty soy sauce) and if you like it spicy, add some wasabi to the dish.

Chapter 7

Food & wine

Because tuna is a fairly meaty fish, you can combine it well with white wine, but also with rosé or even a light red wine. For a red wine, choose one that does not have too much wood and tannin, which can produce a metallic taste in combination with fish.

Remember that the cooking method and ingredients you use also determine which wine you can choose. For example, with raw tuna you can choose a Chablis, Muscadet, Vinho Verde, Assyrtiko, dry Tokaj or Albariño. Tuna sashimi also goes well with a nice dry (Vintage) Champagne.

If you use ingredients like lime, coriander or red pepper, an aromatic Riesling is also excellent.

With lightly fried or grilled tuna steak you can serve white, rosé or lighter red. For white wine, for example, think of Vermentino, Falanghina, Viognier, a Chardonnay, or white Rhône or Provence. Rosé from Provence or, for example, a beautiful rosé from Etna also fit well.

If you prefer a red wine, take a wine that is juicy, fruity and refined such as Pinot Noir, Gamay, Bardolino or Valpolicella.

Chapter 8

How to cook tuna?

Take the tuna out of the fridge about half an hour before cooking it. Always pat the fish dry with some kitchen paper first.

Tuna is best when cooked rare. Count on about 125 to 150 grams per person.

Tuna has its own flavor, so you don’t have to use any herbs, but you can if desired. Herbs that go well with this fish are, for example, fresh basil, tarragon, coriander, parsley and also sea salt. Also try fresh fennel or roasted fennel seeds.

You can also marinate tuna for 15 to 30 minutes before frying it.

Frying it in a pan

If you want to fry tuna, you do so at a high temperature. Make sure you don’t fry it too long, because it should be a little raw on the inside.

  1. Heat some olive oil, walnut oil or peanut oil in a frying pan. But don’t use margarine.
  2. Carefully place the tuna in the oil. The hot temperature of the oil sears the tuna immediately and the juice remains in the tuna.
  3. Fry the fish on one side for 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Carefully turn the fish over and cook the other side for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. When you fry the tuna for 3 minutes per side, it’s still dark red on the inside. If you fry it longer, the fish will be pink or well done. The more well done the less moisture is left in the tuna.

In the oven

If you want to cook tuna in the oven, do so at a medium temperature.

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. Place the tuna in an oven dish.
  3. Place the dish in the hot oven for about 10 minutes.
  4. The correct oven time depends on the thickness of the slices. The tuna should be just cooked.

Grilling on the barbecue

If you cook tuna on the barbecue, you do so at a high temperature.

  1. Pat the tuna steaks dry with kitchen paper.
  2. Drizzle some olive oil on both sides.
  3. Season it with a marinade of sea salt, paprika, cumin powder and allspice on both sides.
  4. Make sure the barbecue is hot and place the steaks on the grill plate.
  5. Grill the steaks for one minute on one side and one minute on the other side.

Chapter 9

Recipe: Tuna Tataki with sesame seeds

Geen beoordelingen

Tuna tataki with sesame seeds and oriental cucumber rolls

Grilled and thinly sliced tuna over high heat. Topped with a sauce based on soy sauce and wasabi.
Prep time15 minutes
Cooking time10 minutes
Servings: 4 persons
Author: Cultiviz


  • 400 gr tuna yellowfin
  • sesame seeds
  • 30 ml soy sauce
  • 2 tsp wasabi

Cucumber rolls

  • 1 cucumber
  • 30 ml white wine vinegar
  • 10 ml olive oil
  • 1 lime


  • green asparagus


  • spring onion
  • radishes
  • pepper
  • salt


Cucumber rolls

  • Peel the cucumber lengthwise into long slices with a cheese slicer or vegetable peeler.
  • Mix 30 ml white wine vinegar with 10 ml olive oil in a small bowl. Add the juice of half a lime.
  • Put the thin slices of cucumber in a bowl and add the mixture with the white wine vinegar. Let this stand for 15-20 minutes. Then make rolls.
  • Grill the asparagus in a grill pan until it’s cooked al dente.


  • Cut the radishes into thin slices and the spring onion into small pieces.


  • Place a pan over high heat and toast the sesame seeds until they get a golden-brown color.
  • Put 30 ml soy sauce in a bowl and add 2 teaspoons of wasabi. Stir this well.
  • Heat a grill pan until it is hot. Brush the tuna steaks with some olive oil on both sides. Grill the tuna over high heat for about 2 minutes per side.
  • Remove the tuna steaks from the pan. Add some salt and pepper and cover the steaks with the sesame seeds.
  • Cut the tuna into thin slices.
  • Arrange the plate with the cucumber rolls, tuna, asparagus, spring onion and radish slices.
  • Pour some of the soy sauce with wasabi over the tuna and you are ready to enjoy your meal.

Chapter 10

All recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Then see below more recipes with tuna. Or check our fish recipes for even more inspiration.

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