10 Numbers about… Tuna Fish


Everything you need to know about the popular and widely consumed saltwater fish: find out some numbers to discover some curiosities about tuna.
10 Numbers about… Tuna Fish

The king of edible fish turns up as an ingredient in hundreds of dishes all over the world. Here are some numbers to help us learn all there is to know about tuna.

4 years is the average shelf life of tinned tuna, on condition that it remains unopened and stored in good environmental conditions. Such a long storage time makes it one of the most widely consumed and versatile foods in the world.

6.4 metres is the record-breaking length of the largest tuna fish ever caught. It actually weighed 725 kilos. Size, however, does not seem to greatly compromise the speed of this fish, which stands at an average of 60 Km/h, even though some may even reach an amazing 95 Km/h. Such record performances are possible thanks to the capacity of tuna fish to shift the position of its dorsal and belly fins. This is due to an extremely well-developed muscle structure, as evidenced by its lean flesh.

7 are the tuna cuts mainly used for culinary purposes. Tuna belly is the most renowned and expensive, being used either fresh or preserved in oil. Second best is fillet followed by the greatly sought-after tuna bottarga or roe, the top part of the belly and finally tuna milt and mosciame, the less valuable parts which are usually preserved in oil, and the heart, which is considered a real delicacy.

8 tuna varieties are known to man. These are Thunnus Alalunga, Thunnus Albacares, Tunnus Atlanticus, Thunnus Maccoyii, Thunnus Obesus, Thunnus Orientalis, Thunnus Thynnus and Thunnus Tonggol. Added to these, there are another 8, which are commonly referred to as “tuna” even though they do not belong to the species. They are Katsuwonus pelamis, Euthynnus alletteratus, Allothunnus fallai, Euthynnus affinis, Auxis thazard thazard, Auxis rochei rochei, Gasterochisma melampus andGymnosarda unicolor. Of the latter, the Katsuwonus pelamis, or skipback tuna, is often used as a substitute for the traditional yellowfin tuna when preserved in oil, especially by the more economical brands.

51% of the tuna being fished is consumed in European Community countries, followed by the United States with 31%, and Japan, with 6%.

52% of the tinned tuna purchased in the world ends up in sandwiches, while 22% is used in salads, 16% goes into baked products and 7% provides the basic ingredient for other dishes.

58% of the tuna market consists of the “Skipjack” variety. “Yellowfin” comes second with a 27% share followed by “Big Eye” (8%) and “Albacore” (6%).

159 are the Kcal contained in 100 grams of fresh tuna. In nutritional terms, it is one of the best types of fish you can eat since it contains as much as 8 grams of healthy-giving fat and an amazing 22 grams of proteins. It is also rich in phosphorus (264 milligrams), selenium (112 micro-grams) and vitamin A (450 micro-grams).

300 grams of tuna are required to make a perfect sauce for dressing your favourite pasta (spaghetti make an ideal choice). Heat five spoonsful of olive oil in a pan, add a garlic clove, some chilli pepper and a couple of anchovies. Wait until the garlic starts to colour and the anchovies disintegrate, before adding the diced tuna, together with a few mint leaves. Pour half a glass of white wine over the contents of the pan and leave it cook until it evaporates. Finally add a few spoonsful of tomato passata and mix well. When you have added the cooked pasta to the sauce, sprinkle the dish with a handful of breadcrumbs, preferably pan tossed for a few minutes beforehand.

At 458 centimetres, the Thunnus Thynnus is the longest variety. The smallest, measuring just 108 centimetres, is the Thunnus Atlanticus. However, if we also include those varieties not strictly belonging to the species, the smallest of all is the Auxis Rochei Rochei, measuring just 50 centimetres.