Everyone likes it, it has a mild flavor and can be eaten on its own, fresh or cooked, or declined in numerous sophisticated recipes. It’s tuna!
It is quite easy to find tuna in the supermarket, in pieces or in a can, and almost everyone has eaten it at some point in their lives. But have you ever tried salted tuna?
Tuna heart, dry and salty, is a specialty of Sicilian and Sardinian cuisine, similar to botarga and appreciated by seafood lovers. The processing of tuna heart is similar to that of fish roe. The heart is salted and placed between two tables under a press. After 20 days it is put to dry in the shade, in a ventilated place. Cured tuna heart has a strong flavor, so it does not require special seasonings. It is used in appetizers, simply seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, in salads or in grated flakes on pasta.
It is not easy to find this excellent product, and even in Italy only a few gourmet shops sell it.
Today, however, you can buy dried heart tuna, even in the United States, thanks to some new online specialty food stores.
But why is tuna so important in the Mediterranean diet? Tuna belongs to the Thunnidae family that can reach a length of more than 3 meters and whose juiciest part is the belly. However, the smaller tuna are the most valuable as their meat is softer and more flavorful.
The nutritional properties of tuna are remarkable; it is so good for human health that it should never be excluded from our diet. It is rich in protein and Omega 3, low in fat and vitamins such as A, B12, E and D.
And its calories don’t depend on the meat itself, but rather on the fact that tuna is often preserved in sunflower oil, which is high in fat, or cooked with too many seasonings. On the contrary, tuna by itself is a true ally of the diet and is good for the heart, controls cholesterol levels and beautifies our skin.
This fish is caught in the Mediterranean Sea, and in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, generally using nets called traps, more rarely with lines or harpoons.
The spread of sushi and sashimi has had a devastating impact on bluefin tuna. Today, tuna is a species in danger of extinction due to excessive and uncontrolled capture that is breaking its reproductive cycles and causing enormous damage to the entire ecosystem. Overfishing has decimated populations in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, pushing the species to the brink of extinction. Regulatory bodies have been unable to impose strict enough catch quotas and illegal fishing is widespread around the world. It seems that only captive breeding of bluefin tuna could save this species. In Spain it was possible to achieve in vitro fertilization of bluefin tuna eggs in captivity. But it is still a great challenge.
Therefore, close attention should be paid to this situation, while being aware of the importance of tuna for our health. In other words: eat tuna but responsibly, and it will bring great benefits to your health… and to the sea!