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Boston on the Pacific: Ahi and Yellowfin Tuna

Boston on the Pacific

Bluefin or Yellowfin?

There it is, second-mention in our very own name, Boston Sword & Tuna, where you can buy fresh tuna fish online. And, coincidentally, tuna ranks second on the list of the most-consumed seafood in North America, trailing only shrimp for quantity and – arguably – popularity. As your best fresh seafood market online, we like to think of tuna ranking first, because it actually looks like a fish. A very big fish. Shrimp, delicious though they are, we see as kind of their own deal.

So, if tuna’s tops in fish, what’s the best kind of tuna? Well if you measure by quantity, then bluefin tuna is likely the leader. Bluefin is richer in oils at some times of year, and it has a higher fat content overall than yellowfin. Somebody drew a pretty good analogy with your choice of steaks: Bluefin tuna is like a finely-marbled Kansas City strip, or even prime rib, while yellowfin is like the tuna version of filet mignon. The structure of the meat, and the flavor, too, make this an unusually good comparison, even for your sea to home online fish market.

Then what about ahi? Well, at your own fresh seafood company, we can tell you that ahi is just what our Hawaiian friends and fisheries call tuna. Because of where it’s commonly caught, yellowfin is what people usually mean when they say ahi, although, in Hawaii, they call the related bigeye tuna “ahi,” too. For most of us, when we hear ahi, it means yellowfin, and because yellowfin is caught in tropical and subtropical waters, that’s what connected the ahi name to it even in North America.

Yellowfin Fans Have Lots to Celebrate

People who prefer ahi, or yellowfin tuna, are choosing the most abundant kind. Much of the bluefin catch goes to Japan for sashimi, because the high fat content and dark-pink-to-faint-red color of bluefin makes it present well raw and fulfills that appearance with rich flavor. So, yellowfin is easier to find and a great buy.

Yellowfin tuna are slightly football-shaped, like their bluefin cousins. (No “inflation” jokes, please. We’re from Boston.) And although somewhat smaller in general than bluefin, our ahi or yellowfin tuna are no shrimps. The largest can weigh nearly 400 pounds and measure almost eight feet in length. They live a little closer to the surface than bluefin, around the 300-foot depth, and, although sonic trackers show that yellowfin can also dive to considerable depths, this epipelagic habitat of theirs helps our Pacific boats set their lines selectively.

The reason yellowfin tuna like to hang out around Hawaii is not just because they’re smart. The presence of baitfish in the neighborhoods of mid-ocean islands such as the Hawaiian archipelago make them a good place to feed. Some of the Western Pacific islands see the same blessing, and even the volcanic Atlantic islands like St. Helena and Ascension Island are feeding grounds for yellowfin tuna.

Enabling them to feed on other fish, yellowfin tuna are fast. Among the few warm-blooded species of fish, their muscles are equipped to make them very strong swimmers. They’ve been clocked near 50 miles-per-hour, and they can cross an entire ocean if they are so inclined. Normally we find them swimming in schools of similar-sized tuna, which means a big work-day for the trusted boats and fisheries with whom we’ve developed relationships over the years. These trusted relationships mean you can order and buy fresh fish and seafood online from Boston Sword & Tuna with equal trust and confidence.

Michael J. Scola

While earning his degree in business, Michael spent summers and winters working the floor at Boston Sword & Tuna and learning the seafood business from the ground up. As a fifth-generation fishmonger and handled different species, lumped sword and tuna, sorted through vats of haddock and cod, broke down salmon cases, graded the fish, and more. During this time, Mike was a veritable sea sponge, learning from the most-experienced seafood professionals in the game while acquiring the tools needed to be successful in this gritty industry.