Notes from the Island Fishmonger

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By Scott Dolan

It’s tuna time!

Whether it’s fresh or in the can, tuna is an excellent source of high-quality protein and essential vitamins. Not only is tuna a protein powerhouse, but it’s packed with important vitamins and minerals such as A, D, B6, Iron, and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Plus, it’s low in fat and calories.

Yellowfin tuna is mild and full of flavor with a firm texture. In my opinion, the only way to eat it is raw or seared. In most cases the Big Water Fish Market customer is always right, but it is definitely looked down upon to order this fish any other way than rare in this seafood haven.

Not all tuna is the same. The most common type of tuna found on Siesta Key is the yellowfin tuna and bluefin tuna (found in deep sub-tropical waters), and Ahi tuna from Hawaii. Other well-known tuna are albacore and skipjack, and they are commonly used for canned tuna.

Regarding yellowfish tuna, it’s a No. 1-graded fish because of its good color and high fat content. In order for tuna to be considered a sashimi grade fish in the U.S., the whole fish or loin needs to be flash-frozen immediately on the boat and stored for 48 hours, then inspected to ensure the safety to eat it raw.

In all, there are 15 different varieties of tuna species.

Tuna is super versatile and was a trendy fish-first proven entity when sushi became popular in the U.S. in the ‘80s. Then, tuna tartar was introduced in upscale restaurants and recently tuna poke (made popular in Hawaii) has a hit on the local seafood scene.

At Big Water Fish Market on Siesta Key, we feature “Tuna Tuesday” where chef/kitchen manager Aaron Mobley puts on a tuna clinic. With help from the staff, he puts out mouthwatering seared tuna specials such as a blackened seared tuna plates, tuna burgers, tuna salad, tuna poke bowls, and tuna tartar soft-shell tacos, served with freshly made seaweed salad and “Nico’s Pico” — or you can get a tuna melt from Big Water Deli next door.

A common question is, “Do you really catch tuna in the gulf?”

The answer is yes! I wrote a poem about my only tuna catch. Want to hear it? Here it goes…

Our boat gently rocks atop of the ocean sea.

The crew consists of my best friends, a captain and me.

The air is still and peaceful, seagulls are all I see.

The crew quiet, sun-kissed in the face as we admire all the fish we sleighed.

But the only one disappointment today, as we don’t have any luck finding the prize fish we prey.

We ice our groupers and snappers and pull in our lines. Then all of a sudden BAM! It was tuna time.

The gulf came alive as the tuna hit our last long line.

OK, so a poet I’m not.

But tuna I like a lot!

This was an exciting moment for our crew of amateur fishermen as a tuna catch of this size had been dreamed of, but always seemed a little out of reach for us. It seemed like the tuna was reserved for the pros such as our experienced gulfcoast charter captains or the stars of the Wicked Tuna TV show.

But not on this day. To make this long fishing story short, after about an hour we landed this beautiful fish and pulled it in the boat. On the way home Capt. Dave opened up his glove box underneath the fish finders, only to pull out a bottle of soy and wasabi. He proclaimed, “I knew I would have a use for this one day!”

Looking back on this day trip, I know it was a special moment among friends that was only increased 100% because of the tuna sashimi we ate on the sunset ride home.

About 90% of the U.S. population doesn’t eat enough fish. To get the most health benefits for your diet, you should be eating at least 8 ounces of seafood a week. Anywhere from eating sushi or seared tuna, to making a can of Bumblebee tuna salad at home will, get the job done.

So come and get your seafood on! What a better way to do that than going to Star Thai & Sushi. located in the Village, or order some tasty tuna tacos from Big Water Fish Market.

Eat fish … live well.

Scott Dolan
Author: Scott Dolan

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