Ecuador, Hawaii, Louisiana, Trinidad, Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico.
FROZEN: Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan.
Year-round, but heaviest landings of the month are just before full
Longline, handline and seine.
° Pale burnt meat color. Meat color should be red.
° Untrimmed bloodline on frozen loins and steaks.
° Incorrect grading.
° Unnatural pink/red color indicates excessive use of CO.
° Sashisoft spots in tuna flesh caused by
° Gaping in loins.
Ahi is recognized by consumers as a very desirable seafood
that is easily prepared.
Most restaurants that serve a good seafood selection will
always menu ahi.
Frozen red-meated tuna loins and steaks that have been processed
with tasteless smoke or CO, a less expensive alternative to fresh
tuna, are increasingly popular with retailers, foodservice and in
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Thunnus albacares (yellowfin);
Thunnus obesus (bigeye)
MARKET NAME(S): Ahi, Yellowfin Tuna, Bigeye
SIZE RANGE: To 250 lbs, but long line fish average 35 to 120
YIELD: Whole to H&G: 80-85%; H&G to skin-on, bloodline-in
loin 70%. H&G to skinless, trimmed loin: 55%; H&G to skinless,
trimmed steak: 52%
PRODUCT FORMS: FRESH: Loins (12-20 lbs. average)
skin-on or skinless, bloodline in or out; steaks skin-on or skinless,
bloodline-in or out.
FROZEN: Chocolate loins and steaks, skinless, bloodline
out; Red-meated loins and steaks treated with tasteless smoke or
CO, skinless, bloodline out.
STORAGE & HANDLING: Never expose loins
or steaks to direct contact with ice or water, as meat will become
discolored. Red color of loins and steaks will begin to fade to
brown after 3 to 5 days exposure to air; loins and steaks should
be wrapped in plastic wrap to slow oxidation. Frozen loins will
keep 6 months to a year.
Ahi tuna has a texture that is similar to beef, with a much more
mild flavor, and is often eaten raw as sashimi or sushi. When cooking
ahi, remember it has a low oil content, so cook it quickly at high
heat, like swordfish, to avoid drying it out. More and more consumers
order ahi cooked medium rare, seared on the outside, but still nice
and red in the middle. Pan-searing, grilling, or broiling are all
good methods to cook ahi, which is best served simply, often encrusted
It wasnt until the 1980s that Americans discovered
that all tuna didnt come in a can. Since then, the popularity
of fresh and frozen tunaespecially yellowfin and bigeye
has soared. Today, you can find fresh tuna at almost every good
seafood restaurant and seafood counter around the country. Seared
on a hot grill and served rare, its a sensational seafood.
With annual landings of more than 900,000 metric tons a year, yellowfin
tuna is the most valuable tuna resource in the world. More than
60% of the yellowfin catch is caught by seiners, which brine freeze
the catch and deliver it to tuna canneries.
A truly global resource, yellowfin inhabit warm waters of the Atlantic,
Pacific and Indian Oceans. The Mediterranean is the only warm sea
where yellowfin are not fished commercially.
The Hawaiian name, ahi, refers to both yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
Burnt tuna describes fish that lack a bright red meat
color and have more watery, softer flesh. This condition is often
associated with yellowfin caught near the surface of the ocean,
often in handline or troll fisheries. Although burned tuna sells
for a substantial discount because it cannot be served raw as sashimi,
after it is cooked it is very acceptable.
Whether its caught off Ecuador, Hawaii or Bali, almost all
of the true sashimi-grade fresh yellowfin and bigeye
tuna is sold to Japanese buyers who pay a premium price.
Japan is the largest market for fresh and frozen tuna, consuming
more than 200,000 tons a year. The U.S., on the other hand, consumes
about 55,000 tons of fresh and frozen yellowfin and bigeye.
Ecuador exports more than 7,000 tons of fresh yellowfin and bigeye
to the U.S. market a year, making it the single largest supplier.
Trinidad is next with exports of about 4,000 tons a year.
Tuna longliners set their lines at night, fishing waters more than
1,000 feet deep, where larger fish are found. Lightsticks are attached
to the line to attract bait fish and hence tuna. During periods
of the full moon, fishing with lightsticks is less effective and
most boats will deliver during this period, one reason tuna prices
tend to be lowest at the full moon.
Clipper is a term that is applied to the fleets of longline
tuna boats that freeze their fish at -60°F for the Japanese
sashimi market. Originally owned and operated by Japanese companies,
most of the clipper boats are now operated by Korean, Taiwanese
and Chinese companies.
California leads the U.S. in yellowfin catches, producing about
5,000 tons of fish a year, most of which is small fish which is
canned. Louisiana is also a leading sources of fresh longline yellowfin.
Hawaii is the only state that produces landings of both yellowfin
and bigeye tuna. Catches in both Louisiana and Hawaii range between
1,000 to 2,000 tons a year.
Yellowfin and bigeye are graded both by fat content and color, which
can be an objective exercise, as standards can vary from supplier
to supplier, depending both upon the experience of the grader and
the condition of the market. Fish with the highest fat content and
the brightest red bring a premium price.
The amount of myoglobin in a tunas muscle determines its color.
The more myoglobin, the redder the flesh. The amount of myoglobin
is a function of a tunas age, physical activity and species.
After the flesh of a tuna is exposed to air, an iron ion in the
myoglobin molecule will start to oxidize, which turns the meat brown.
For that reason, it is important to keep tuna loins and steaks wrapped
Until recently, frozen tuna had to be held at ultra cold temperatures
such as -60°F to retard oxidation and prevent the meat from
turning brown (brown frozen yellowfin is called chocolate
tuna). However, exposing red tuna meat to tasteless smoke for up
to 12 hours can fix the red color so that tuna held at conventional
cold storage temperatures of 0 to -10°F will not turn brown.
Some tuna suppliers use carbon monoxide (CO) to fix a frozen tunas
red color. However, with CO the color can also be enhanced, allowing
processors to make a lower grade of tuna appear higher than it is.
The FDA requires that seafood exposed to either tasteless smoke
or CO be labeled accordingly.
Tuna that are not properly iced after catching and left in the sun
can produce histamines. Although histamine poisoning is rarely fatal,
it can be extremely uncomfortable.
trained purchasing department with international vendor base,
including on site buyers at the Honolulu auction.
Advanced training in handling of histamine producing species.
Professional team utilizing state-of-the-art handling, filleting
and custom portioning techniques.
Strict quality control, grading and receiving policies.
Advanced H.A.C.C.P. program with full time inspection exceeds
all industry standards.
High-volume distribution network covering an extensive geographic
distribution, results in volume purchasing advantage, quick
turnover and consistent supply of product.