Raw tuna comes in various forms at your local sushi restaurant and is one of the more popular types of fish alongside salmon.
Raw tuna has an oily texture and a taste that’s fresh, slightly salty, and a bit creamy all at once. It’s a semi-strong umami taste that’s unlike many other kinds of fish.
But its taste and flavor go deeper than that, so let’s talk all about raw tuna!
What Does Raw Tuna Taste Like?
As you bring a piece to your mouth, you’re met with a mild yet distinct taste. Raw tuna doesn’t have the strong, fishy flavor that you might expect. Instead, it’s tender and subtly infused with the essence of the sea.
The taste of raw tuna has a hint of sweetness, balanced with a slightly salty undertone. It’s a flavor that’s rich yet not overpowering, making it a delight to savor. The oily texture of the tuna adds a layer of complexity to its taste, enhancing the overall eating experience.
Types Of Raw Tuna
Several types of tuna are enjoyed raw, each with its own unique flavor profile:
- Bluefin Tuna: This is the most coveted type of tuna in sushi. It has a rich, buttery flavor that’s incredibly luxurious. The fattiest part of the Bluefin, known as ‘Toro,’ is especially prized for its melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Yellowfin Tuna (Ahi): Yellowfin tuna, also known as ‘Ahi,’ has a slightly lighter flavor than Bluefin. It’s still rich and buttery but with a hint of sweetness that sets it apart.
- Albacore Tuna: Albacore has a milder flavor and lighter color than Bluefin and Yellowfin. It’s often used in canned tuna, but it has a delicate, almost chicken-like flavor when served raw.
- Bigeye Tuna: Bigeye tuna is similar to Yellowfin in terms of flavor but has a higher fat content. This gives it a richer, more velvety texture when eaten raw.
What Does Raw Tuna Compare With?
When it comes to comparing raw tuna with other foods, here are a few that come to mind:
- Salmon: Raw salmon has a richer, fattier flavor compared to tuna. It’s also slightly sweeter. While both are popular choices for sushi and sashimi, they offer distinctly different taste experiences.
- Swordfish: Swordfish have a meatier texture than raw tuna and a mild flavor. However, it’s typically enjoyed cooked rather than raw.
- Hamachi (Yellowtail): Hamachi has a rich, buttery flavor that’s somewhat similar to raw tuna but with a distinct sweetness that’s unique to this type of fish.
- Scallops: Raw scallops have a sweet, delicate flavor that’s different from raw tuna, but their buttery texture can be somewhat similar, especially when they’re very fresh.
What Is Raw Tuna Sushi?
Raw tuna sushi is a delightful dish that is highly revered in Japanese cuisine. Here are different types of raw tuna sushi and their unique characteristics.
Akami is the most common type of tuna used in sushi. It refers to the lean, dark red meat from the back of the tuna. It’s firm texture and mild flavor characterize Akami sushi. It’s a great introduction to tuna sushi, offering a clean, straightforward taste of the sea.
Chutoro is the belly area of the tuna between the Akami and the Otoro. It is often considered the perfect balance between the lean Akami and the fatty Otoro. Chutoro has a medium-fatty content, giving it a richer flavor and softer texture than Akami. When served as sushi, it melts in your mouth with a satisfying umami taste.
Otoro is the fattiest part of the tuna, found in the belly of the fish. It’s highly prized in sushi making for its incredibly soft, buttery texture and rich, almost creamy flavor. Otoro sushi is a real treat, offering a melt-in-your-mouth experience that’s truly unforgettable.
Negitoro is a type of sushi made from the fatty parts of the tuna, typically the scrapings from the bones. It’s usually chopped and mixed with scallions, then served atop or rolled within sushi rice. Negitoro has a rich, creamy flavor and a soft, almost spreadable texture.
Each of these types of tuna sushi offers a unique taste and texture experience, allowing you to enjoy the wonderful versatility of raw tuna in different ways. Whether you prefer the lean, mild flavor of Akami or the rich, buttery decadence of Otoro, there’s a type of raw tuna sushi to suit every palate.
Raw Tuna FAQs
Why does raw tuna taste so good?
The appeal of raw tuna lies in its delicate yet distinct flavor, and the oily texture of the tuna adds a layer of complexity to its taste that satisfies you.
How would you describe the taste of ahi tuna?
Ahi tuna (Yellowfin tuna), has a slightly lighter flavor compared to Bluefin. It’s still rich and buttery but with a hint of sweetness that sets it apart. When served raw, it offers a delicate, almost chicken-like flavor.
Does raw tuna taste like steak?
While raw tuna and steak are very different, some people do draw comparisons between the two. The texture of raw tuna can be somewhat similar to a rare steak, and its mild, meaty flavor can be reminiscent of beef. However, raw tuna has a unique taste that’s all on its own.
Is Ahi tuna supposed to taste fishy?
Ahi tuna has a mild flavor that’s not overly fishy. Instead, it offers a rich, buttery taste with a hint of sweetness. This unique flavor profile makes Ahi tuna a popular choice for dishes like sushi and poke bowls.
My Tasty Thoughts
Raw tuna is a star in sushi and sashimi, where its delicate flavor shines alongside the tangy notes of rice vinegar in sushi rice and the sharp, clean flavors of wasabi and pickled ginger.
It’s also fantastic in poke bowls, where it pairs beautifully with the sweetness of ripe avocado, the crunch of fresh cucumbers, and the savory depth of soy sauce.
Whether it’s the tangy notes of a citrus-based marinade or the heat of wasabi, raw tuna holds its own while allowing other flavors to shine. If you haven’t tried raw tuna yet, I highly recommend it.