Usually, when the subject of Tuna comes up, you will hear grandiose talk of the superstars Bluefin, Yellowfin, Albacore, Big-Eye or, if you are one of the lucky ones, Toro. No one hardly ever talks about this black sheep of the family, Blackfin – could it be its smaller stature, or that it often gets confused with Bonito or that its sheer numbers and tenacity make it a real pest when trying to snag its larger cousins. If you’ve ever been offshore in a Tuna feeding frenzy, under the lights, you know what I mean. When the heat is on and time is of the essence, a 150 pound Yellowfin is always preferred to a 15 pound Blackfin, at least to your regular sports fisherman (guess I’m not such a regular guy after all).
Blackfin Tuna (Thunnus Atlanticus), also known as Bermuda Tuna, Blackfinned Albacore and Football, is a member of the Scombridae family. They range in size from 2 – 20 pounds with the largest catch on record being 45 pounds. There is some commercial interest in this fish worldwide, but virtually none in the Atlantic and Gulf regions. Blackfin are a Pelagic Species found in warmer tropical waters from Brazil to Cape Cod in large schools, usually around other tunas. They eat less fish than other members of the Tuna family and more shrimp, crab and squid, but they are one of the fastest growing tunas and reach sexual maturity in less than two years. A five-year-old Blackfin is considered old. Because of its ability to procreate quickly and its rapid growth, I see no reason why this fish is overlooked as a viable commercial harvest or a potential candidate for open ocean aquaculture. Mahi-Mahi has this same quality.
Now for the BACON!
“How did you ever come up with that?’ is a common question that just about every chef gets asked. Depending on the dish, I can usually spin a good yarn about where the dish came from: my ancestors, a muse, seasonality or divine providence. But, in the case of the Blackfin Tuna bacon, the back story is straightforward and as old as the hills: it was straight necessity, the mother kind. Last fall at REEF, we were getting a large amount of Blackfin. After butchering, two or three of those sweet little medallions made a beautiful meal. The only problem was that the last third of the loin was just too thin to use. What to do? What could I do! I did what every other red-blooded Texan would do…make Bacon!
Blackfin Tuna Bacon, Firefish, Apples, Avocado, White Soy and Miso