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The Skinny on Tuna

Tuna is a heart-healthy choice and tasty no matter how it's prepared

There are thousands of ways to prepare tuna, whether it comes from a can or a pouch, or is purchased as a steak or fillet at the fishmonger's. In fact, the taste of good fish depends very much on the treatment it received from the ocean to your refrigerator. That means finding a seafood merchant you can trust. It also means you should practice safe transport from the store. Make it your last stop before heading home and prepare a cooler filled with ice.

The best tuna is fresh and ready to grill, sauté, bake, or steam. Blacken it, toss it into a stir-fry or chunk it for a nice salad. Bluefin is at the top of the heap and the most expensive, followed by yellowfin. Skipjack is what you generally get using the can opening, but albacore (also called long-fin) is also used. It's known as "chicken of the sea" based on its color and taste.

Once you get a fresh fish home, remove from the package and rinse. Place it on a raised tray over a bed of ice and cover. When a fish sits in its own juice, it's an invitation to bacteria development. It's best to prepare the same day as purchased, but definitely no longer than the next day.

If you're making a spread or a salad, canned will typically work just fine. If you're aiming to impress a firm grilled steak, fillet, or whole fish should do the trick. Frozen, packaged tuna can also be used. When buying in the package, hold it up to the light and turn. If you see a rainbow the fish is past its prime.

This fish is known for its oily flesh, but that's a good thing - it's loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to lower cholesterol and protect the heart.

Most people tend to overcook fish, which also affects the flavor in a distinct, negative way. The general rule of thumb is about four minutes each side for every inch of thickness.

Try this delicious tuna marinade:

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Set aside a little extra for basting while cooking.

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