Ahi is the Hawaiian name for yellowfin tuna. This delicacy has a firm, meaty texture with a color that ranges from pink in younger fish to a deep, burgundy red in older and bigger fish. Fillets cut from larger fish have a higher fat content, preferable for grilling.This fish is common in the Pacific and is caught regularly from California to Mexico and Hawaii. Sometimes mistakenly referred to as “Big Eye” tuna, ahi is considered a “sport fish” due to its size, with larger catches reaching 200 pounds or more.
Ahi is used in sashimi as well, but only the very best fillets are used because it’s served raw. The finest ahi fillets are sometimes called “sushi grade” as they are deep red with a bloodline (if it hasn’t been removed) that’s almost a black color. The best cuts of ahi will smell fresh, not fishy and feel firm. Expert sushi chefs recommend you smell the fish before cooking or grilling. Restaurants and backyard grillers alike generally sear the fish quickly on either side, leaving the middle bright red. A good cut of ahi tuna will melt in your mouth and is often served with wasabi and soy sauce, combining to bring out the mild, un-fishy flavor.
Commercial fishermen bring in ahi year round, but the season for the fish runs from October through April. Fisherman know that the best ahi, from a pricing point of view, swim deeper. That’s because ahi that swim closer to the surface get sunburned, and the meat is a different color and that means a lower price from the fishmonger. Its close relative the Big Eye tuna swims very deep and is much more difficult to catch than the yellowfin ahi. Albacore tuna is not nearly as good as yellowfin or Big Eye and typically ends up as a canned product with some guy named Charlie extolling its virtues.
A four-ounce fillet contains 24 grams of protein and only 2 grams of fat and no carbohydrates, perfect for people following a high protein, low carb diet. It’s loaded with B vitamins and is also rich in minerals. It does contain small amounts of omega-3 as well, but not as much as other seafood such as wild salmon.
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