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Discovering the Taste of Yellowtail: What You Need to Know

Yellowtail is a much-loved fish among both eaters and fishermen. Yellowtail is renowned for both its fighting spirit and delicious flavor. So what does Yellowtail taste like?

The short answer is that Yellowtail tastes great! They have white flesh, which is oily and ideally suited for most cooking methods except for frying. And raw? Most definitely! One of the greatest parts of the Yellowtail is that you can slice it up on the boat and eat it raw. Sashimi is a great way to enjoy Yellowtail. 

Let’s learn more about what does Yellowtail tastes like and how to prepare it.

What Does Yellowtail Taste Like: Preparing Yellowtail

There are many ways to prepare Yellowtail. Most people will fillet Yellowtail, but there are some who do enjoy yellow as a steak like you would with Queenfish or other saltwater species. Despite what most people expect, some of the best eating parts of the Yellowtail are the belly and the collar. Yellowtail roe is also surprisingly popular. 

Eating Yellowtail

Yellowtail is renowned for being a particularly oily fish. This makes it an excellent fish for broiling, grilling, baking, poaching, sauteing, or smoking. Frying, however? Avoid it. Frying Yellowtail can lead to the fillet being trapped in its own oil. In general, fresh fish is always best. And with Yellowtail, it couldn’t be more true. It also tastes similar to Dogtooth Tuna, Mutton Snapper, or Opah.

The freshest Yellowtail is best for sashimi, and if you like raw fish, then you’ll love yellowtail sashimi. Put the freshly caught Yellowtail on ice and slice it thinly for some delicious sashimi. While fresh is best, you can also freeze vacuum-packed Yellowtail for later. 

Author Note: Yellowtail is a common name that refers to a few different species. Whether it is amberjack, flounder, sole, or tuna. In this article, we are referring to the California Yellowtail. 

The California yellowtail is found off the Baja and Southern Californian coast. It is the Seriola lalandai, not to be confused with the farmed Yellowtail in Japan’s Inland Sea. The Californian Yellowtail is also farmed, but not in Japan. Rather, the Californian Yellowtail is farmed in Australia and Mexico. 

Fishing for California Yellowtail

yellowtail fish

So, what makes Yellowtail keen to bite? Spawning squid is ideal for getting Yellowtail in a fishing frenzy. 

There are few fish as prized along the West Coast as the California Yellowtail. It is a sought-after game fish that puts up a great fight. It can reach a weight of 35 pounds, and it puts all of that weight to good use. They are ferocious fighters of the Pacific and display incredible displays of power. And the reward for winning the fight against these incredible fish? They make a tasty table treat, too. 

Check out our article on the best lures for California Yellowtail for all the best fishing tips. And if you’re looking for how to catch Yellowfin Tuna, check out our best lures for Yellowfin Tuna guide.

Top Yellowtail Recipes

So, we know California Yellowtail is highly sought after and a great fight, not to mention it is delicious. We think they taste better than many of their other tuna cousins – like Skipjack tuna, Blackfin tuna, Albacore tuna, and Big Eye tuna.

But, what are the best ways to cook this fish? We know that almost any cooking methods work with the California Yellowtail, except for frying. Let’s take a look at some recipes to get the Yellowtail off the hook and onto your plate. 

To start off our culinary journey with the California Yellowtail, we’re going to kick things off with Yellowtail steaks. Most people fillet this fish, and this is arguably the best way to enjoy Yellowtail. But, that shouldn’t discredit California Yellowtail steaks.

Author Note: While not as fine a fare as the fillet, the steaks can offer something different. And if prepared and cooked correctly, they can be surprisingly delectable. But how to prepare and cook them correctly, you ask? Well, you’re about to find out. 

You can find hundreds of recipes for Yellowtail fillets, but steaks? There are not as many. Take a look at these tips for cooking yellowtail steaks that will surprise even the fussiest of fish eaters.

Cooking Yellowtail Steaks

When it comes to yellowtail steaks, there are several things to keep in mind. This will ensure the answer to “what does Yellowtail taste like” is delicious!

If you aren’t careful with your cooking, your steaks could be tougher than you want them to. It is best to keep your eye on the steaks while they are cooling. The best way to cook your steaks is with a skillet or grilling. Avoid frying the steaks in too much oil. You might initially be put off by the steaks that appear to be rare. The steaks will be perfectly cooked while they are still pink. 

If you overcook the steaks, then they will be unpleasant to eat. Their flesh will become chewy and dry. 

Yellowtail steaks have a naturally firm texture, and their flavor is mild and delicious. 

The first step in your complete guide for how to cook tuna fish is adding your desired flavor enhancers.

Preparing Yellowtail Steaks

Yellowtail nigiri sushi

Before you put your steaks on the heat, you should prepare them first. 

First up, make sure your yellowtail steaks are free from scales. If you spot any, rinse them with cool water. Once you’re sure there are no scales left, dry them by blotting them with paper towels. Use a ruler to measure how thick your steaks are so you know how long to cook them. 

So, now you know how to perfectly prepare your steaks, what comes next?

First up, get a good marinade to use with them. The best marinade to use for yellowtail steaks is one that gives the fish a complementary flavor. But, more importantly, it should keep the fish moist. Unlike red meat, fish only needs a short period for marinating.

Approximately 15 minutes is sometimes all you need. If you are completely stuck with what marinade to use, stick with Asian flavors- they work best with this fish. 

What if you don’t want to marinade your fish? Simple, don’t. Instead of marinating the steaks, you could simply brush them with extra virgin olive oil or butter. After that, season with your favorite herbs and spices.

Use a fish rub if you aren’t ready to experiment with your own seasoning. But, to help you out, then you could always opt for fresh herbs. Rosemary and tarragon are always winners for fish.

And always use some salt, a crack of fresh black pepper, and a spritz of lemon juice. Top it off with sprinkles (or a whole sprig) of your chosen herb, and you, or your steaks, are ready. 

How to Cook Them

Use nonstick spray, oil, or butter to grease an unheated rack. 

If you haven’t marinated or brushed the steaks, then now is the time to brush the steaks with the oil or butter and the seasoning. 

If you want to indirectly grill the steaks, then place the steaks on the grill over medium heat. Grill the steaks uncovered. The time will depend on your steak’s thickness. You can gauge the time by using 7 to 9 minutes per ½ inch. You’ll know the steaks are ready once they begin to flake.

But don’t wait for them to begin flaking on their own! Use a fork to test them. As we mentioned before, the steaks should still be pink in the middle. Turn the steaks halfway during the cooking. 

Top Tip: Brush the steaks with additional butter or oil once you’ve turned them once. 

Cooking Yellowtail Steaks in a Skillet

Assorted fresh yellowtail and tuna sashimi

While frying is inadvisable, searing is a great idea. Use a hot skillet to sear the steaks. The steaks become deliciously caramelized on the outside while locking in the moisture. If you are a novice at cooking yellowtail steaks, start with ¾ inch steaks on a stove. 

Tips for Yellowtail Steaks on a Skillet: Use a heavy skillet that can fit the number of steaks you want to cook. Before adding the steaks, heat one tablespoon butter and one tablespoon oil

Heat the skillet to medium-high heat and add the steaks when the skillet is hot enough. The time you should cook them on the skillet should be 4 – 6 minutes per inch. Again, test the fish with a fork to see if it flakes. The middle should be pink, and again, turn it once during cooking. 

Remember that these are only guidelines. If the skillet is too hot, then turn it down. 

Baking Yellowtail Steaks

Okay, so we’ve covered grilling steaks, searing steaks, and now we are about to cover baking yellowtail steaks. And the best part? You can keep the stove uncluttered for concocting the perfect side dish to accompany your perfect steak. 

Steps for the Perfect Baked Yellowtail Steaks:

  1. As with all baking recipes, preheating comes first. Preheat your oven to 450F.
  2. Grease a sheet pan or a baking sheet. It should go without saying, but don’t stack the steaks. Place them in a single layer.
  3. If you haven’t marinated the steaks (see the recipe above), then brush them with olive oil or butter. And, don’t forget to season it with your preferred seasoning and herbs. Fresh herbs are always a great option. 
  4. Bake the steaks in your preheated oven for 4 to 6 minutes per ½ inch. And yes, you can test their readiness by using a fork to test the fish’s flakiness. 


Are you ready to try a yellowtail steak? There are plenty of ways to enjoy this fish. Whether you prefer to bake, broil, or sear the California Yellowtail, it is undoubtedly going to be delectable.

Use our tips for yellowtail steaks, and you should be well on your way to a tasty table treat. We hope you enjoyed this article on what does Yellowtail tastes like.

Happy Hunting!


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