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Preparing Your Catch: Tuna

No holiday to the Caribbean is complete without a deep sea fishing expedition. The allure of the ocean, the thrill of your first catch and the bragging rights to be earned from landing a whopper; it’s a fantastic way to spend a morning, afternoon or even a whole day! Whether you go with friends, family or even alone there’s endless fun to have on the sparkling waters of the Caribbean.

Now, whilst some excursions will collect up your catch for sale to the local markets, many let you take it home. Some of the fish on offer include white marlin, wahoo, swordfish and more. One of the most popularly caught fish is in fact tuna. For fishing trips in the Turks and Caicos, visit www.gsfishing.com.

These fish can grow to tremendous proportions (tuna as large as 700kg have been landed in the past!) and their rich, meaty flesh is highly sort after across the Caribbean. The meat is flaky, oily and rich in flavour. Steaks are available in shops and restaurants across the Caribbean, but we’re not interested in taking the easy option. This guide is going to walk you through preparing your own catch and serving up some delicious, home caught tuna.

There are a number of varieties of tuna on offer, some of which are highly sort after. In the Caribbean you can expect to find yellowfin, Bluefin and even blackfin. Bluefin are the most highly prized of the different species and are actually endangered so ensure you have the correct licenses and permission!

The first thing to note is that, despite being very oily, tuna dries out very quickly. Because of this it goes over within a day or two and so it’s important to prepare and eat your catch as quickly as possible (probably that same night). Once prepared, your steaks should have a deep, red flesh with a rich, meaty aroma. If there is off-colouring around the bone or the meat is dull and brown then the fish is past its best.

One thing to note before you begin your butchering task; if you have landed a big haul and have dozens of tuna in your boat, pay the dock workers to clean the fish for you. They will usually do it for a couple of pounds and it will save you a lot of time and effort! If you’re brave and have plenty of time, make sure you have a set of very sharp filet knives and plenty of towels!

Firstly, take your tuna and place the head onto the towel. This will prevent it from slipping as you try to clean and prepare it. Take the filet knife and make an incision at the tail, running it down towards the head through the belly. The cut should be around half a centimetre into the skin, enough to allow you to pull the skin back. Run the cut up to the top of the spine, behind the side fin.

Run your fillet knife back to towards the tail and pull the outer layer of skin back. This is made lots easier if the tuna is very cold. If not, use your fillet knife it peal the skin back. Make a cut towards the fish’s head by the spine and, using a towel, grab the skin and pull it off. It should come off relatively easy, exposing the meaty tenderloin beneath.

Taking care not to cut yourself on the tuna’s spine, make deep cuts on both the lower and upper end of the tenderloins. Remove each tenderloin carefully, before flipping the fish over and repeating the whole process again. Once finished you should have four red and meaty tenderloins ready to prepare and eat.

Do not wash these tenderloins as the meat is very flaky and prone to disintegrate. Instead, dab away any spots of blood using a paper towel. Cut the tenderloins into steaks. Clean your work station, ready to prepare the fish for eating!

Tuna actually marinates very well, so consider leaving your steaks for an hour or two in a light marinade. Alternatively, brush with olive oil, salt and pepper before seasoning with a herb such as rosemary or thyme. A squeeze of lemon will also compliment the rich, meaty flavour.

To cook, place the tuna in a pre-heated grill or over a barbeque for around 2 minutes per inch of thickness. The steaks should be turned once during cooking. When ready, the fish will flake gently when pressed with a fork and the centre of the steak will be pink.

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