Yellowfin tuna are delectable table fare, but only if properly cleaned and handled.
Tuna, Capt. Will Wall said, are more perishable than other fish because their flesh is soft and porous.
And good care begins on the boat, Wall said.
Tuna should be killed before being iced, and they should be buried in ice or — better yet — sunk in a saltwater ice slush.
Cleaned flesh should be isolated from water contact by putting it in plastic zipper bags, closing them carefully and burying them in ice, as soon as possible.
Contact with water washes flavor and color from the flesh.
Tuna steaks to be frozen are best packaged in vacuum sealed pouches. Vacuum-sealed tuna can be kept frozen for one year.
Frozen tuna should be thawed in the refrigerator; never on the counter. After thawing, any discolored meat may be trimmed off with a sharp knife and discarded.
Here is how Wall cleans his tuna, using his favored 9-inch, scalloped Dexter Russell utility knife:
1) Cut behind the head at a 45-degree angle to save as much of the meat behind the head as possible.
2) Cut the length of the back 2 inches deep along the backbone.
3) Cut across the body near the tai,l and then cut 2 inches deep along the center of the belly.
4) Deepen the cuts along the back and belly to the backbone. Repeat the cuts on the other side of the fish.
5) Make a cut to the backbone down the length of the fish, slightly above the lateral line on the fish’s side.
6) Free the top loin by cutting any remaining points of attachment to the carcass.
7) Make a similar deep cut down the length of the side of the fish slightly below the lateral line.
8) Free the rear of the lower loin from the frame of the fish and poke a hole through the flesh and skin to make a finger hole.
9) Using the finger hole to hold the loin, cut it free from the frame of the fish.
10) Still using the finger hole, flip the loin, skin side down on the cutting surface and run the blade of the knife between the skin and flesh to free the loin from the skin. Cut free and discard the rib cages from the belly loins.
11) Shave off and discard any blood-line red meat.
12) Cut each loin into roast-sized pieces, which may be cut into steaks later.
13) Never wash tuna flesh. Rather, wipe it clean and pat it dry with paper towels.