Your essential eating guide to bluefin tuna

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One of the world’s most coveted fish is right in our waters, writes Anthony Huckstep. He tells why everyone wants a piece of bluefin.

Globally, it may be as controversial as that monkey-abandoning JBT (Justin Bieber t****r), but southern bluefin tuna (SBT), prized for its creamy mouthfeel when eaten raw, is, in fact, caught then grown under the world’s most stringent management practices in Australia, and it’s helped protect and rebuild the biomass.

An open ocean dweller, SBT needs to feed constantly to maintain its high energy levels. This means it’s always on the prowl for smaller fish, crustaceans and molluscs. That, combined with the non-stop activity, helps build layers of fat throughout its muscles, making it incredibly delicious to eat.

Most SBT in Australia is purse seined, not line caught. The tuna is captured live, in the Great Australian Bight, slowly towed back to Port Lincoln in SA and kept in large floating pens where it doubles in size over 4-6 months on a diet of pilchards, squid and mackerel.

Prized wild-caught SBT is often found on the east coast in winter and spring, with the largest/fattiest mostly sent to premium sashimi markets in Japan.

“We produce amazing tunas in Australia, from the albacore to yellowfin and bigeye, too, but the southern bluefin tuna is the most delicious,” says fish expert John Susman of Fishtales seafood consultants.

Indeed, we have the Japanese to thank for the SBT’s luxury status. The nation’s discovery that Australian bluefin is one of the world’s highest-quality tuna, perfect for sashimi prep, and their teaching of fishermen how to catch and handle them, has seen SBT gain rockstar status in less than a generation.

“Be prepared for a unique difference in southern bluefin tuna from other species,” says Susman. “Whilst other tunas have bright-red flesh, the colour of the meat in southern bluefin tuna is a rich burgundy and can be a light pink across the fat-filled belly, which makes it an unctuous eating experience.

“The flesh is typically softer than other tunas also, due to its very high fat content, which makes it a highly prized sashimi fish. But it’s perfect for braising or to confit at low temperature, too.”

Click here for the recipe to Tom Walton’s tuna poké bowl.


Bluefin tuna is mostly sold as loins or chunks, but you might find a fishmonger selling pieces from a whole fish. Look for a clean, consistent colour, ideally with translucent flesh.


Wrap in muslin and place on a drip tray over ice, sealed in an airtight container at the bottom of the fridge.


Best raw, or seared until rare or medium-rare in the centre. Bluefin can also be braised, its delicious fat rendering to add a deep, rich flavour to a dish.

Catching method

Farmed fish are seine caught then ranched (where they grow in sea pens).


Mackerel, albacore tuna.


Agrodolce (Italian sweet and sour sauce), apple, citrus, eggplant, capsicum, avocado, rice.

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