Tuna is a robust meat, perfect for grilling and bringing great flavor to your table. As would be expected from any seafood, tuna is much different from “turf” meats such as beef and pork. Follow these guidelines to ensure your tuna turns out right.
Understanding your meat
When we hear the word “tuna” many of us think about the white or gray meat that comes in a can that served us well as a hockey puck when we were young. While it has provided many hours of fun for the active body and imagination, canned tuna gives a poor impression of the meat: dry, crumbly, packed in grainy water, and only edible when mixed with other foods. This canned tuna gains such a flavor and texture profile because of the high temperatures required by the canning process. If your only exposure to tuna is in its canned form, now is the time to try a tuna steak. Fresh tuna is nothing like its canned counterpart. When properly cooked, it is moist and flavorful. It pairs well with mild citrus flavors, but can easily stand on its own, seasoned with nothing but salt and pepper.
Ensuring your Tuna on the Grill is successful
Tuna is a more delicate meat than beef or pork. Compared to most other fish, however, tuna is a very robust meat. If you have never grilled seafood before, be aware that fish cooks much faster and dries out more easily than beef or pork. Tuna is best grilled over high heat for a short amount of time. This achieves a good sear on the outside, but leaves the inside of the tuna steak moist and rare. For best results, ensure that your grill is burning hot and even. You should be able to hold your hand an inch above the grate for about 1 second before snapping it away from the heat. For a simple tuna steak, brush the tuna on all sides with good olive oil before sprinkling with salt and pepper. Place the tuna on the grill immediately and flip the steak once, when the first side takes on a good color. Keep in mind that you are grilling the steak to color the exterior and set the seasonings. The goal is to refrain from cooking the steak through.
Flavor Combinations for Tuna on the Grill
The method above is a simple but elegant way to grill tuna. Many variations exist. Because it is a lighter meat, tuna cannot stand up to heavy BBQ sauces or robust rub mixes. The fish is best adorned with simple citrus flavors that brighten the flavor and keep from overpowering the meat.