Everyone likes it, it has a mild flavor and can be eaten plain, fresh or cooked, or declined in numerous sophisticated recipes. It’s tuna!
Tuna is fairly easy to find in the supermarket, in chunks or canned, and almost everyone has eaten it at some point in their life. But have you ever tried salty tuna?
The dry and salty tuna heart is a specialty of Sicilian and Sardinian cuisine, similar to bottarga and appreciated by seafood lovers. The processing of the heart of tuna is similar to that of fish roe. The heart is salted and placed between two tables under a press. After 20 days it is placed to dry in the shade, in a ventilated area. Cured tuna heart has a strong flavor, so it does not require special seasonings. It is used in appetizers, freshly seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, in salads or in flakes grated on pasta.
This excellent product is not easy to find, and even in Italy only a few gourmet shops sell it.
However, today you can buy dried tuna heart, 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 most succulent part is the belly. However, the smallest 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 much seasoning. On the contrary, tuna by itself is a true ally of the diet and is good for the heart, monitors 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 tuna traps, more rarely with lines or harpoons.
The spread of sushi and sashimi has had a devastating impact on bluefin tuna. Today, tuna is an endangered species due to excessive and uncontrolled capture that is breaking their reproductive cycles and causing enormous damage to the entire ecosystem. Overfishing has decimated populations in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, bringing the species to the brink of extinction. Regulatory bodies have not been able to impose sufficiently severe catch quotas and illegal fishing is widespread throughout 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, it is convenient to pay close attention to this situation, while being aware of the importance of tuna for our health. In other words: eat tuna but responsibly, and you will bring great benefits to your health … and to the sea!