Why You Can't Buy Live Tuna

Terms like "fresh," "never-frozen," and "wild-caught" are among the most commonly used buzzwords related to seafood. While there's nothing wrong with frozen commercial fish, there's something special about the notion of fish caught, killed, and eaten on the same day. Outside of being a professional fisherman, it's hard to get this experience. There are a select few supermarkets and restaurants equipped with large tanks that house fish and crustaceans taken from their natural habitats for same-day consumption, but you'll never find live tuna in one of those tanks.

There are a couple of reasons for that. The first has to do with the sheer size of some species of tuna. It's no exaggeration to say that the larger species, such as bluefin, are like ocean motorcycles, often weighing over a thousand pounds and growing to a maximum length of over six feet. Size aside, tuna are biologically incapable of being caught, stored, and transported from sea to supermarket because of a breathing mechanic called ram ventilation. In short, if they aren't actively swimming through water to get oxygen, they die fairly quickly. Tuna can't even sleep in the same way other animals do because of the need to keep swimming for oxygen.

The best way to enjoy fresh tuna

Ruling out the possibility of getting live wild-caught tuna served to you minutes later, buying frozen tuna is the best way to enjoy this popular fish. When buying tuna from the market, stick to the rule of eating thawed tuna on the day of purchase. Research seafood vendors around you to know who sells the best quality fish and develop a relationship with them to learn when they get the latest stock. Sealed frozen tuna is perfect for eating at a later date as long as you keep it frozen and thaw on the day you want to eat it.

Grilled, baked, or pan-seared tuna steaks are delicious ways to enjoy this substantial protein, but home cooks should not be intimidated by the prospect of serving raw tuna to their families. As mentioned above, shopping for the right tuna is paramount, especially when buying sashimi-grade fish. Hand rolls are one of the best and easiest ways to eat raw tuna. They are not only easier to prepare than rolled sushi but don't require special tools to make. Only the bare minimum is required: sushi vinegar, sushi rice, sheets of nori seaweed, soy sauce for dipping, and, of course, tuna!