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It’s time for Mediterranean bluefin tuna!

We asked Gaetano “What is tuna for you?”
“It’s my life!” he replied.

I

The bluefin tuna freshly caught in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea has just landed in Marzamemi, the fishing village at the southern tip of Sicily, in the artisanal canning laboratory of our partner Gaetano. The artisanal processing and production of the various preserves will begin shortly.
We asked him “Gaetano, what is tuna for you?”
“It’s my life!” he replied.
Since 1931, in fact, the Gaetano family has kept the ancient tradition of tuna conservation alive.

What do we know about this magnificent specimen of the sea?

Powerful, imposing, the Mediterranean Bluefin Tuna can exceed 3 meters in length and weigh up to 400 kg, a true runner of the sea that can move in a short time from the Mediterranean to the more turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Belonging to the Thunnus Thynnus family, it is one of the most fascinating inhabitants of our sea, as well as a prized ingredient of our tables.

It is called Red Tuna because of its opaque dark red meat. It is an extraordinary “warm-blooded animal”, capable of increasing its body temperature thanks to the movement of its muscles, and the presence of an enormous amount of blood vessels that nourish its powerful muscular structure gives its meat a taste and a unique consistency.

Bluefin tuna lives in temperate waters and is typical of the Atlantic Ocean, but the Mediterranean Sea, together with the Gulf of Mexico, acts as a fundamental “nursery”. In spring, these fish gather in large groups and migrate to the Mediterranean Sea at very high speed, to breed in the warmer and calmer waters of the Mediterranean in spring (the so-called “tuna exit”) and return to the ocean in autumn. (known as “return tuna”).

Fishing occurs mainly in late spring, when it is possible to catch fish whose meat has greater commercial value. Bluefin tuna is a rather sensitive animal, which cannot tolerate pollution and variations in water salinity. In particular, the meat of tuna caught in the Mediterranean is highly sought after because their diet allows lower mercury values ​​in meat with a strong increase in omega-3 fats. In particular, tuna belly is highly sought after in the Mediterranean, the fattiest part of the tuna, more tender and tasty, due to the fat that covers the muscle of the abdominal cavity.

Today, bluefin tuna fishing is limited by regulations that limit their catch, according to ICCAT provisions. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna, an organization to which the European Union also belongs, regulates catches through a system of quotas and fishing blocks, which annually determines the maximum quantities that can be caught by member states.

How many of these caught tuna remain in Europe?

Very few, in reality, because after fishing the tuna starts traveling again, mainly towards the east. The Japanese, in fact, buy the biggest and fattiest tuna at disproportionate prices to prepare sushi and sashimi for the rich Japanese. It is no coincidence that more than two-thirds of the world’s bluefin tuna catch is consumed in Japan every year. The Mediterranean tradition is to obtain fillets, tartare, carpaccio and large steaks from the largest tuna.

The price of bluefin tuna varies depending on the time of year, but is generally high. While wholesale tuna can be purchased for between 12 and 16 euros per kg, retail prices can range from 15 to 40 euros per kg.

Nothing of the tuna is thrown away and its most valuable and less valuable parts are processed both manually and by the canning industry.

These are the most important parts of tuna:

Bottarga is the ovary of the fish, the eggs of which are salted and dried according to traditional procedures. The Sicilian bluefin tuna egg is included among the traditional Sicilian agri-food products recognized by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies.

Buzzonaglia is a special tuna preserve that uses the less valuable cut of the fish, usually packaged in oil.

Mosciame or tarantello is a preparation of dried fish fillet obtained from the upper part of the tuna belly.

Lattume is the male equivalent of bottarga.

The scapece or maccarone is traditionally the least valuable part of the bluefin tuna (after the “buzzonaglia”) which, after boiling, is preserved in oil

The ventresca is the most valuable part of the bluefin tuna, obtained from the fattest part of the animal, the one surrounding the abdominal cavity, which is usually consumed fresh or packaged for preservation in oil

Are you ready to taste our tuna-based delicacies? You will find them in our Exquisito Boxes Mediterraneo, Ammare, Aperitivo di Mare, Aperitivo Siciliano. Enjoy!

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