Tuna is one of the many different kinds of fishes caught in Texas waters. Those looking to catch tuna in Texas flock to the Texas Gulf Coast. Blackfin tuna are commonly caught in Texas waters. Not to worry, since the more popular yellowfin tuna are also caught here by anglers and fishermen. Many Texans enjoy eating tuna. You can make ceviche, sashimi, fish tacos, and other fish-based dish using tuna.
- The state record for the biggest bluefin tuna caught in Texas is 876 pounds, caught by Troy Lancaster from Port Aransas in 2021, according to local news.
- The OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) Comprehensive Gas and Oil Resources Management Program 1992-1997 Environmental Impact Statement gives us an idea of how important tuna is to Texas in 1989. “The following four species each accounted for landings valued at over $1 million in Texas during 1989: red snapper, yellowfin tuna, blue crab, and American oyster.”
- Jolie Carpenter, writing about the San Antonio restaurant Boudro’s in the book Spectacular Restaurants of Texas, shows how tuna plays an important part in the authentic and genuine Texas culinary and dining experience. “The busy little bistro serves cutting-edge Contemporary Regional cuisine. Its chef artfully fuses influences of Mexico, East Texas, Louisiana, and the Germanic Texas Hill Country; and the kitchen uses locally sourced produce, meat, and seafood to turn out such divine dishes as smoked shrimp enchiladas, blackened prime rib with Boudreaux butter, rosemary-grilled yellowfin tuna with lime cilantro butter, and pan-fried Texas crab cakes.”
- A 1980 book from the U.S. Department of Commerce and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration featured a tuna recipe called Texas Tuna As You Like It.
- According to the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), there was a community in Texas called “Tuna” located “six miles south of Cotulla on the International and Great Northern line in west central La Salle County.” Was it named after the fish? The online article didn’t say. Consider this though: according to the book 1001 Texas Place Names by Fred Tarpley, a railroad station in Texas named “La Tuna” was named as such in reference to prickly pear cactus, not the fish.
Tuna Buying Guide
Tuna is common in supermarkets and grocery stores. Fresh tuna and canned tuna are very common here. Before buying tuna, here’s what you should know about this particular kind of fish:
Allothunnus: slender tunas
Auxis: frigate tunas
Euthynnus: little tunas
Katsuwonus: skipjack tunas
Thunnus: albacores, true tunas
Unlike other fresh fishes commonly sold in the market that are generally affordable, fresh tuna could be expensive, which is why it is important that you know how to spot fresh tuna and a bad one.
When buying fresh tuna, consider the following tips:
- Fresh tuna on display in the seafood market comes in three different types: whole fish, loin, and steak. A loin in one whole slab of tuna meat. Steaks are smaller cuts of tuna.
- If the meat is more brown than reddish, it is not fresh anymore. Another red flag is gapping, or when the meat appears to start breaking apart. That is another sign that it has been quite some time since the steak or loin has been cut and put on display. Avoid buying tuna if you see these signs.
- Trust your nose. Fresh tuna should have that fresh sea breeze scent. If the tuna has a very strong fishy smell, it is a sign that the tuna is not fresh anymore.
- Buy from legitimate vendors. Shady sources selling cheaper tuna may mean you get to save money, but consider the fact that the tuna may have skipped government-mandated quality control, exposing you to potential health and safety threats resulting from the consumption of tuna from vendors who are not authorized or certified by the government.
Another option besides fresh tuna is canned tuna. You don’t have to go to the nearest seafood market for this. Imported and local canned tuna are commonly found in supermarkets and grocery stores. While canning ensures the quality of the tuna, diligence is still required when doing your grocery shopping for several important reasons.
When buying canned tuna, consider the following tips:
- Inspect the condition of the can. There should be no indented, bulging, or misshapen parts. Canned tuna can be damaged during transport, handling, storage, and stocking, and sometimes, the damage renders the product unfit for public sale and consumption.
- Check the label. It should be intact with no part torn or peeled off. No part of the label should be covered with any kind of marking that covers details important to the customer, like expiration or best before date.
- Go for canned tuna brands that adhere to BPA-free canning practices.
- Read the label and check the ingredients. This will help you avoid buying canned tuna brands and choose the one best suited to your health and dietary preferences.
Tuna Production & Farming in Texas
The US has a tuna hatchery, located in San Diego, California. Tuna ranching in the US, however, is yet to experience real commercial success. The supply of tuna in the US and in Texas remains reliant on fish caught offshore by commercial fishing boats.
Fish ponds that grow fish for commercial purposes are common in many parts of Texas. It is common to find fish farming businesses in Texas growing catfish, sunfish, and largemouth bass, but not tuna.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals
An NPR online article discussed the results of the Geographic Differences in Persistent Organic Pollutant Levels of Yellowfin Tuna, a study conducted by Sascha Nicklisch, Lindsay T. Bonito, Stuart Sandin, and Amro Hamdoun and published in the Environmental Health Perspectives.
According to the article, “the study found that 90 percent of tuna caught in the northeast Atlantic Ocean — and more than 60 percent of yellowfin samples caught in the Gulf of Mexico — contained pollutant levels that would have triggered health advisories in some segments of the population, including pregnant and nursing women.”
The article mentioned some of the chemicals usually found in tuna:
- Flame retardants
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
There are also concerns when buying canned tuna. According to a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Heliyon, “One of the drawbacks of canning is the migration of various chemicals from the package into the food product” resulting in the presence of Bisphenol A, zinc, aluminum, and tin on the contents of a canned tuna product.
Tuna is caught by fishermen and anglers in the coastal areas along the Gulf of Mexico, like in Port Aransas in Nueces County, Freeport in Brazoria County, Galveston (situated on the southeast Texas coast), and South Padre Island in Cameron County.
Laurence Parent, in the book Scenic Driving Texas, wrote: “Aransas Pass and nearby Port Aransas are centers for deep-sea fishing charters. Fish caught offshore include red snapper, shark, yellowfin tuna, kingfish, marlin, bonito, and tarpon.”
Tuna is a type of fish caught by fishermen and anglers in different parts of the world. Japan and Indonesia are considered top tuna fishing countries.
In the US, tuna fishing is ideal in many locations, including Catalina Island in California, Oahu in Hawaii, The Florida Keys, and Venice in Louisiana.
The United States, along with the European Union and Japan, is a major consumer of tuna, according to the Colorado Integrated Food Safety Center for Excellence.
Consumers see fresh tuna slices in sealed trays. The frozen section also holds vacuum-packed tuna fillet and tuna steak. Other forms of packaging used in tuna include flow wrapping (also known as pillow pouch wrapping, horizontal bagging, or fin-seal wrapping).
Canned tuna is sold in tin cans. Easy-open tin cans are becoming more and more popular, although traditional tin cans that need a can opener are still being used in some parts of the world.
There are many restaurants in Texas that serve tuna for tuna lovers.
Kobe Teppan & Sushi, located in Live Oak, Texas, has tuna on the menu. You can have tuna nigiri sushi or sashimi. They also have Ahi Tuna Tower, Tuna Tataki, Tuna Roll, Spicy Tuna Roll, and Yummy Tuna Roll. Thai Spice & Sushi, which is located in Selma, Texas, offers a variety of choices for tuna lovers. They have Tuna/Salmon Tower, Pepper Tuna Roll, Tuna Bomb Roll, Tuna Nigiri, Tuna Sashimi, and many other dishes that have tuna in them. SeaSide Poke, which is located in Houston, Texas, serves Spicy Tuna and Tuna Aioli poke bowls. Fish Tales, which is located in Galveston, Texas, has Blackened Tuna Salad and fresh yellowfin tuna.
Shells Pasta & Seafood, which is located in Port Aransas, serves Seared Yellow Fin Tuna. Virginia’s On The Bay, which is also in Port Aransas, has Grilled Yellowfin Tuna Salad on the menu. Another restaurant in Port Aransas – The Phoenix Restaurant & Bar – has tuna on the menu. The poke bowl marinated is made of tuna sashimi, avocado, and Asian slaw. The restaurant also has on the menu Sesame Crusted Tuna Salad, Spicy Tuna makisushi, and Tuna Stack.
If you want Mexican-style tuna dishes, try Caracol in Houston. Carnitas De Atun En Adobo is adobo-rubbed tuna tacos, with guacamole and refritos, while the Tostadas De Atun Crudo is raw tuna tostadas, chipotle mayonnaise, serrano, leeks, and mango-maracuya gel.
When prepared the right way, tuna can be eaten raw.
When eating tuna, make sure that you do not have a fish or tuna allergy. Histamine poisoning is another concern when it comes to eating tuna. A victim of histamine poisoning will develop a rash, experience diarrhea, cramping, vomiting, a tight feeling in the throat, facial flushing, and headache.
If you suffer from gout flare-ups, it is recommended to eat tuna in moderation because of tuna’s high purine content which can trigger a gout flare-up.
Fresh tuna should be refrigerated as soon as possible if you plan to use or cook it at a later time. Remember to put fresh tuna in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It can only stay there for 1 to 2 days. If you need to keep tuna for longer, freeze it. Raw tuna can stay in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. It can still be used beyond that time – the 3-month window is when the frozen raw tuna is at its best. A raw tuna frozen constantly at 0°F is safe to eat and cook indefinitely. Remember that all of these considerations depend on whether you followed proper handling and storage of raw tuna. Make sure your hands are clean, as well as the plastic cover and container used in storing raw tuna. Pat the raw tuna dry before putting it in a freezer-safe container.
You can eat tuna raw. Ceviche, a dish wherein fish is cooked with something acidic like vinegar or citrus juice, is very popular all around the world, and tuna is commonly used in making ceviche. Tuna is also a favorite when making a variety of Japanese dishes; nigiri, sushi, and sashimi.
It is also great when cooked. Grilled tuna and pan-fried tuna are delicious. Cooked tuna is used in making fish tacos. Tuna salad, tuna pasta, tuna casserole, and tuna sandwich are very popular worldwide. Tuna is also used as a meat component in salads.
Eating a moderate amount of tuna is good for you. It has vitamin B12 which helps with anemia, vitamin D to help maintain bone health, vitamin B6, iodine, iron, potassium, protein, selenium, and a high level of omega-3 fatty acids. Eating tuna can help lower the risk of heart disease, improve eyesight, help reduce cancer, support weight loss, and help improve the immune system.