Different parts of the tuna and ways to enjoy them
Highly sought-after maguro, or tuna, is on every gourmet’s hit list. But there’s more to the fish than extra fatty otoro. We slice a little deeper to reveal other heavenly melt-in-your-mouth cuts and how to serve them.
Leaner than other cuts, the tail has a rich, concentrated flavour. It is unusual to find the tail in a restaurant unless it buys an entire tuna to fillet in-house.
Wild or farmed?
Best enjoyed in autumn and winter, wild-caught tuna has firmer muscles than farmed tuna, which results in darker red flesh and a richer, meatier flavour with a lingering aftertaste. However, when it comes to wild tuna, fresher is not always better: fresh wild tuna sashimi is tough and unpalatable, so restaurants usually age the fish to soften it before serving to customers.
Farmed tuna tastes the same all year round, and some argue it tastes even better than wild tuna in summer. “Half-farmed” tuna is “aged” in water during transportation, so it is at its optimal consumption period fresh out of the water.
A fatty cut from the middle part of the belly, chutoro is soft and pinkish with very little sinew, and is less marbled and less oily than otoro.
The upper part, or “shoulder” and back, of the tuna is the most common cut available in supermarkets and restaurants, and can be considered “standard” tuna. The flesh is firm and lean.
The extra-fatty tuna belly between the back cheek (kama) and middle belly (chutoro) is probably the best-known cut among Hong Kong diners. Otoro may be the most expensive tuna cut, but it’s too fatty for most palates and rib (nakaochi) is the most popular cut in Japan and Hong Kong.
The cheek of the tuna. With only two small chunks in each fish, it’s almost as pricey as the more famous otoro and kama-toro (back cheek) cuts.
The back cheek, or gill flesh. A particularly fatty cut within the kama, called kama-toro, is characterised by firm yet well-marbled flesh.