Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering what is probably a question that we don’t really need to ask when it comes to Tuna fishing… can you eat Skipjack Tuna? Now, the short answer is absolutely, if fact, it is so popular it is the fish of choice for many commercial fishing enterprise as well as the type of Tuna you usually get in a can.
The flesh is delicious whether eaten cooked or raw with lean rich red flesh that is a little fishy without being too overbearing. Personally, I love it seared lightly on each side and raw in the middle but of course there are so many other ways to eat it that I simply won’t be able to cover it all here.
So anyway, let’s look at the in and outs of consuming Skipjack Tuna below…
What are Skipjack Tuna?
So, before we start, let’s just quickly recap what we are talking about here. Skipjack Tuna are a saltwater are a migratory species found all over the world in the warmer waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. They travel large distances in schools of up to 50,000, located both on the surface and up to 250 meters deep and commonly caught via netting or trolling.
As you would expect from a fast moving and migratory species, Skipjack Tuna have elongated, hard looking bodies with dark blue or purple backs (darker in older species) and silver bellies. They also have 3 – 5 dark stripes or bands running down the sides of their bodies (hence the name Striped Tuna) as well.
Skipjack Tuna generally live for around 8-12 years depending on their habitat and can reach sizes of up to 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) in length.
Note: Due to their high levels of commercial fishing, most states and jurisdictions implement bag limits (e.g. 5 per person) on the number that can be harvested by recreational fishers on each trip. They are also subject to sustainable fishing regulations within the commercial industry as well.
Can you eat Skipjack Tuna?
Absolutely, if fact, it is so popular it is the fish of choice for many commercial fishing enterprise as well as the type of Tuna you usually get in a can. The flesh is delicious whether eaten cooked or raw with lean rich red flesh that is a little fishy without being too overbearing.
Are they any good?
As above, Skipjack Tuna produce a flesh that is a deep red color whilst being firm with a lean, flaky texture. It is a little oily – but not too much and slightly stronger in taste than others such as Striped Bass etc. With that in mind however, it is an extremely versatile fish and the species of choice for most Japanese cooking due to its abundancy and taste.
It is also used in a massive array of recipes from the can and well as cooked to perfection in top class restaurants around the world.
However in the interests of keeping safe with this species, keep in mind that as they can grow quite large however it is worthwhile keeping the following in mind:
- Older varieties tend to taste a lot stronger or ‘fishier’ so if you are planning to keep one for dinner, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the biggest one you catch.
- Larger varieties are also more susceptible to worms and parasites and well as higher levels of mercury in some locations.
In most cases, as long as you keep them of legal size without going for the biggest one you can find and you are within your slot limit, then you are generally ok.
As with most fish with darker flesh, Skipjack tuna should be bled for around 10 minutes upon capture and placed them on ice as soon as possible afterwards. Many use an ice slurry in a cooler which is generally a ratio of 2 parts ice to 1 part water for this purpose.
From here, preparation will be determined by your planned consumption. Tuna have little to no scales however it they are to be eaten whole then you will need to clean them beforehand. If you plan to pan fry, then you can either fillet or fillet and skin – the skin is almost always removed when cooked professionally.
Keep the meat refrigerated or on ice at all times before and after preparation and take care with the flesh when preparing – as the flesh can be quite delicate – especially if fresh.
Can you freeze uncooked fillets?
Yes – Raw Tuna can be frozen for up to around 9-12 months. It must at the very least be gutted and cleaned and placed in an airtight bag (ziplock bags are good here) prior to being placed in the freezer.
As with Crappie, it is also highly recommended that you fill the container or bag with water to cover the fillets as well.
Can they be eaten raw?
Absolutely – this is considered a great species for the sushi or sashimi wheel – see below.
How to cook Skipjack Tuna
As we have discussed above, there are so many ways to cook fresh or canned Skipjack Tuna that I simply couldn;t begin to co through it all here. I mean a friend of mine makes a Tuna mornay (from canned Tuna) that is to die for and my favorite sushi lunch two Tuna rolls – one raw and the other mixed with Mayo and onion.
Anyway, let’s cover the basics below
Tuna fillets, steaks or even slabs can be cooked over charcoal or gas grills with any and all spices and seasonings as you see fit. Below is a common recipe:
- Heat a grill hot but not smoking.
- Pat fillets dry then spread a good olive oil over the non-skinned sides along with salt and pepper.
- Grill fillets to taste – think of it like steak – rare, medium or well done (if well done, make sure it is just cooked and the fillets start to flake).
- Consume with salad or grilled vegetables.
You can of course use any other herbs or spices on the flesh to taste.
As above, but in a pan – I like to add garlic to the butter when I pan fry Tuna fillets with the salt and pepper as well. I have seen many pan fried fish recipes with Asian spices used too so that is also worth a try.
Of course, if you have a can, the flesh can be mixed with bread, eggs, spices and even potato and crumbed as well which entails:
- Gather three bowls and in the first, place some flour, eggs (beaten) in the second and breadcrumbs in the third.
- Pat dry each pattie (the result of mixing all of the above) and then cover in flour.
- Sink the flour covered patties into the egg mixture and then cover in breadcrumbs
- Shallow fry in the oil of your choice in a pan large enough to hold the full size of the fillet.
- Spritz with lemon juice and consume with fries (chips), salad or whatever else takes your fancy.
Note: For extra flavour, add salt and pepper to the flour or even some grated Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs. I have even seen some good recipes using BBQ rubs on these as well.
I have included this one as it is one of my favourites. A cooking example is as below:
- Melt butter and mix in flour and then whisk in milk until the sauce is thick and creamy
- Add in parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, some stock (chicken or vegetable stock is best) plus anything else you like (my friend adds a smidge of chili powder to hers)
- Flake the tuna into large-ish chunks and mix it through.
- Add some veges if you want yoo
- Tip into a baking dish, top with crunchy Panko breadcrumbs – and a cheese of your choice and bake until it’s golden on top and bubbling on the edges!
Many recipes I have seen make this into a pasta bake as well.
As above, Skipjack Tuna is a very popular fish of choice when it comes to use in sushi or sashimi. If you are looking to go this way then:
- Lay your fillet out onto a cutting board – make sure it is completely thawed if it has been frozen.
- Using a very sharp filleting knife (or chefs knife), slice thin slices to personal preference.
- Present on your plate with dipping sauce of your choice – I personally love a good sweet and sour sauce myself but you can use soy, sweet chili or even a nice chili oil if you prefer.
And there you go – my response to the question of whether you can eat Skipjack Tuna. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences – or recipes – would love to see your recipes below too.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time