Skipjack Tuna is a species that leaves its critics divided. There are many who believe it’s a decent eating fish, especially if prepared correctly, while there are many who believe it has no status and is not good to eat at all. As with many fish, the secret to a great tasting skipjack lies in the preparation. So is Skipjack Tuna good to eat?
The short answer is yes, Skipjack Tuna is good to eat. The flesh can be described as meaty with a mild fishy flavor. When the flesh is raw, it is a beautiful bright red in color.
The flesh turns to a dark brown on the outside and pink in the center when cooked. Skipjack Tuna flesh is extremely versatile and can be consumed canned, baked, grilled, and raw.
What Are Skipjack Tuna?
Skipjack Tuna have a powerful and streamlined body. They are silver on the sides and belly and feature four to six beautiful bands. They are dark blue-purple on the back and have virtually no scales on their skin.
Enthusiasts can find skipjack Tuna in temperate and tropical waters of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. They are the smallest and most plentiful of all the commercial Tuna species. Skipjack Tuna are fast-growing and have a lifespan of between eight and ten years.
Author Note: Adult Skipjack Tuna have been known to dive to depths of over 800 feet and generally school with juvenile Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna. This species is fun to catch, and they always offer a memorable fight.
Pound for pound, all of the Tuna species are up there with the strongest fighting fish in the Ocean.
Commercial Importance of Skipjack Tuna
Skipjack Tuna are an extremely important species, both commercially and within the oceans. Commercially Skipjack is the main species of canned tuna, which is consumed all over the world.
They are not just a major food source but also provide livelihoods for millions of people. Within the marine food chain, tuna are top predators and are key players in maintaining the balance within the ocean environment.
How Do You Catch Skipjack?
The best way to catch Skipjack Tuna is by trolling. Anglers can do this with artificial lures (similar to the best lures for Albacore Tuna), live bait, or dead bait. The best live bait is Anchovies, and dead bait like Sardine and Mullet will work really well.
There are numerous quality artificial lures available today, which have been perfected through immense amounts of research and development.
Skipjack Tuna hunt in schools, so constantly survey the horizon for surface action (Tuna feeding on the surface) and for large flocks of birds. It is advisable to chum fresh baits whilst you are trolling.
Once the school of tuna has been attracted to your boat, you can target them with poppers, spoons, and hard-body lures.
Handling Your Catch
When targeting Skipjack or any other species of tuna, it is important to handle your catch in a way that won’t damage the precious meat.
Firstly, it is imperative that you bleed your fish as soon as possible after catching it.
Author Note: This is important because tuna are extremely hard-fighting fish and will fight you within an inch of their life. This causes the blood to reach high temperatures that could potentially damage the flesh.
By bleeding the fish, you allow this heat to dissipate and the natural cooling process to begin. Secondly, even though your fish is out of the water, it will still try every trick in the book to escape.
This might result in it flapping around on your boat or in your fish hatch. This can cause extreme bruising and potentially ruin the highly sought-after flesh.
How to Clean and Fillet Skipjack
Cleaning and filleting Skipjack Tuna is relatively straightforward, and with some practice, anyone can do it. Cleaning tuna is often called carking the tuna – you can check out our guide on that too.
- Remove the hard skin (corselet) using a sharp filleting knife. First, start with the dorsal area and then move up to the pectoral fin area. Turn the fish over and repeat step 1.
- Place the fish belly up and make an incision behind the head and slice down towards the pelvic fins with cutting the intestines. Now lay the fish on its side and hold the pectoral fin and head with your weaker hand. Without cutting through the backbone, extend the previous cut. Behind the gill cover. Cut through the dorsal area directly behind the head until your blade reaches the backbone. Turn fish over and repeat.
- Make an incision from the anal vent to the throat to expose the intestines. Hold the body with your weaker hand and pull the head down and break the backbone with your stronger hand. This will allow the intestines and head to be separated from the body easily.
- Now you can isolate the two dorsal fins and finlets by making cuts on both sides of the dorsal fin. Separate the finlets and fins from the body by grabbing the last finlet and pulling forward.
- Insert your knife into the exposed intestinal cavity until you feel the backbone, separate the flesh from the dorsal bones by cutting down towards the tail. Turn fish over and repeat.
- With your weaker hand, hold the tail and make an incision close to the tail and just above the backbone. Slide your blade forward to separate the lateral bones and flesh from the backbone. Your first fillet is now done. Remove the second fillet. Without turning the fish over, slide your blade between backbone and flesh.
- Now insert your blade under the intestinal cavity’s front bones and cut the connection between the lateral and cavity bones in the dark meat. Separate membrane and cavity bones from the belly flap. It is important to remove as little flesh from the belly flap as possible.
- Next, remove the dorsal fillet leaving a thin line of the darker meat on it. Remove the remaining dark meat from the ventral fillet leaving a thin line.
- Turn the fish over and repeat. Your four beautiful fillets are now ready to be eaten.
Tasty Skipjack Tuna Recipes
Oven-Baked Skipjack Tuna with Mushrooms
This is a nutritious meal with a Japanese twist and packed full of goodness. This recipe serves two people, and the nutritional values have been calculated per single serving.
- 2 x fresh Skipjack Tuna fillets
- ½ x tsp sugar
- 30 grams of fresh mushrooms (Shiitake are recommended if available)
- 12 grams cake flour
- 2 grams of oil
- 80 grams egg
- 6 grams soy sauce
- Two pinch Shichimi Togarashi seasoning
- 10 grams of shironegi leek
- Dust Skipjack Tuna fillets with flour
- Cook eggs until half-cooked in a small frying pan
- Slice Mushroom into even 3mm pieces
- Combine remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly
- Marinate your fillets with marinade
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees C and bake for 12-15 minutes
- Serve and enjoy
- Protein 15.2 grams
- Calories 216
- Salt Equivalent 0.7 grams
- Total fat 14.1 grams
Skipjack Tuna with Lemon and Asparagus Sauce
This is a simple recipe that serves four adults; it takes around 20 minutes to prepare.
- 4 x Fresh Skipjack fillets
- 2 x clove minced or finely sliced garlic
- 1 x bunch of asparagus (stems removed)
- 1 x hand-full parsley (stems removed)
- 2 x freshly squeezed lemons
- Combine lemon juice, garlic, asparagus, and parsley and blend for one minute
- Steam asparagus until tender (do not over steam)
- Sear the Skipjack Fillets by cooking them for just two minutes on each side. The middle should be pink (almost raw), and the outer crust should be dark brown
- Drizzle with lemon and asparagus sauce and garnish with parsley and lemon twists
- Serve and enjoy
Grilled Skipjack Tuna with Watercress
- 2 x Fresh Skipjack Tuna fillets
- 1 x Pinch salt
- 1 x Pinch pepper
- 5 grams of minced garlic
- 5 x grams miso rub (if available)
- 5 grams of paprika
- 5 grams lemon thyme
- 1 x freshly squeezed lemon
- 2 x tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 x Bunch fresh watercress
- Combine salt, pepper, garlic, miso rub, paprika, and lemon thyme and mix thoroughly
- Rub Skipjack Fillets with spice
- Heat a medium-sized skillet and sear the fresh Skipjack Fillets for approximately two minutes on each side (don’t overcook)
- Drizzle with lemon Juice
- Garnish with watercress
- Serve and enjoy
Skipjack Tuna with Crepes and Pesto
This is a straightforward recipe, which is nutritious and quick to prepare.
- 1 x Can Skipjack Tuna
- 1 x Tablespoons Capers
- 2 x Tablespoons basil pesto
- Half a cucumber sliced
- Using a can opener, open the can of tuna
- Strain the water or brine and place in a mixing bowl
- Using a fork, separate the tuna (it may be compressed into the can)
- Add pesto and capers and mix thoroughly
- Serve on crackers, sliced tomato, or sliced cucumber
Skipjack Tuna is the smallest species in the Tuna genus and are found in abundance in temperate and tropical waters of the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans. While some believe that it’s not a great eating fish, there are many who believe it is, especially if prepared correctly.
Skipjack feed on the surface and at depth, the best way to target them is by trolling. Adult Skipjack tends to school with juvenile Bigeye and yellowfin tuna. You can use artificial lures, live bait, or dead bait. The best live bait to use when targeting Skipjack is Anchovies.
While trolling, it is advisable to chum fresh baits to attract Skipjack Tuna to the boat. There are many ways to prepare Skipjack Tuna, and it can be consumed raw, grilled, fried, canned, or baked. Skipjack Tuna is a commercially important species and a top predator, which helps maintain the balance in the Ocean.
We hope you enjoyed this article on whether Skipjack Tuna is good to eat. You should also check out our articles on how to catch Skipjack Tuna in the summer as well as the best lures for Skipjack Tuna.