Sautéed Tuna Belly
- Servings: 3 to 4.
Most people think of tuna belly as a favorite kind of sushi. Also called toro or fatty tuna, it is a section of the tuna that many consider has the best flavor and most tender texture. It is usually lighter in color than the tuna steaks we are accustomed to seeing at our fishmongers.
Tuna belly is not easy to find in most fish stores or fish counters. But a top fishmonger, like The Lobster Place in Manhattan's Chelsea Market, will often have it. That's because this fish monger also wholesales to restaurants (including Japanese sushi restaurants) and other fish stores.
Besides being different in color, tuna belly also has a different texture. A fillet will be thin and divided into finger-like sections. It is also higher in fat than a regular tuna steak. Its higher fat content and sectional construction means it should be cooked simply and quickly so to protect its delicate flavor and tender meat.
This simple method of sautéing a tuna belly fillet in melted butter was taught to me by the chief fish monger at The Lobster Place.
- 1 pound tuna belly
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Fresh lemon for serving
- Pat the tuna fillet dry with a paper towel. Lightly salt and pepper both sides.
- In a large skillet melt the butter over medium high heat. When the butter is completely melted and has stopped foaming, add the tuna. Reduce the heat to medium. Let cook for about 2 minutes.
- Use a spatula and turn the tuna. Keeping the heat at medium, continue to cook another one to two minutes until slightly brown but leaving the interior of the fish still pink. Take care to not over-cook.
- Serve immediately with a wedge of fresh lemon.
Variation: If you are avoiding butter or prefer the flavor of olive oil, the fish can be cooked exactly the same way with about 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. If you cook the fish in olive oil, it can also be used, at room temperature, to make a fabulous tuna salad. Just flake the cooked and cooled fish with a little vinegar or lemon juice, tiny capers, finely minced red onion, and salt and pepper.