The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat tuna. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What tuna etiquette is

Tuna etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat tuna. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve tuna to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat tuna at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat tuna

What you should know about tuna

Tuna is a saltwater fish that belongs to the mackerel family. It is a popular food fish and is widely consumed worldwide.

Tuna typically has a sleek, torpedo-shaped body with a dark blue or blackish color on the back and silver on the belly. The flesh of tuna is firm and meaty, with a mild to rich flavor, depending on the species. The texture can vary depending on the cut and the preparation method, ranging from tender to chewy.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat tuna

1) How to store tuna

The ideal temperature to store fresh tuna is between 32-39°F (0-4°C). Tuna can be stored in the pantry only if it is canned, otherwise, it should be stored in the fridge or freezer. Fresh tuna can last in the fridge for up to two days, while frozen tuna can last for several months. Canned tuna can last for up to two years in the pantry.

Sliced or cooked tuna should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge and can last for up to three days.

2) How to clean tuna

To clean tuna, rinse it under cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. There are some risks involved with handling raw tuna, such as the risk of foodborne illness, so it’s important to follow proper food safety guidelines. You can use a sharp knife to remove the skin and any bones.

Signs that tuna has turned bad include a strong odor, slimy texture, and discoloration.

3) How to prepare & cook tuna

Tuna can be eaten both raw and cooked. When preparing tuna for cooking, it’s important to use a sharp knife to cut it into even portions or slices. Common cooking methods for tuna include grilling, baking, sautéing, and searing. Utensils and appliances that can be used to prepare and cook tuna include a grill, oven, stovetop, and skillet.

Raw tuna is commonly served in dishes like sushi, sashimi, and poke bowls. Tuna is also common in salads, sandwiches, and pasta dishes.

Tuna is not suitable for vegan diets but is a good source of protein for those on keto or paleo diets. Some people may have allergies or food intolerances to tuna. There are no religious dietary restrictions that forbid eating it.

4) How to serve & present tuna

Tuna is appropriate for a variety of occasions, from formal dinners to casual lunches. You can serve it as a main course, appetizer, or in salad or sandwich.

The most polite ways to serve tuna to guests include presenting it on a platter or in individual portions on a plate. The ideal serving temperature is cold or room temperature.

You can serve tuna with a variety of seasonings, such as lemon, garlic, soy sauce, and olive oil.

5) Food and wine to pair tuna with

Tuna pairs well with a variety of flavors and condiments, such as lemon, lime, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Some good vegetables and fruits to pair with tuna include avocado, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, mango, pineapple, and citrus fruits. Vegetables that may not pair well with tuna include strong-flavored vegetables like asparagus, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts.

Tuna can pair with certain types of cheese and dairy products, such as feta cheese, goat cheese, and cream cheese. It is best to avoid pairings with heavier and stronger cheeses like cheddar or blue cheese.

Meat or fish pairings are unusual. However, tuna can pair with certain types of meat, such as bacon or pancetta.

Tuna pairs well with both red and white wines. The best pairing depends on the preparation method. Grilled or pan-seared tuna pairs well with red wines like Pinot Noir, Merlot, or Syrah. Raw or sushi-grade tuna pairs well with crisp white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Pinot Grigio. Rosé wine and sparkling wine can also be good options. Beer and spirits are not typical pairings with tuna.

6) How to eat tuna

The most polite way to eat tuna is to use utensils, such as a fork and knife or chopsticks. It is not polite to eat tuna with your fingers. The skin and bones of the tuna should be removed before eating.

Tuna etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common tuna etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Not removing the skin and bones before serving.
  • 6/10. Serving tuna undercooked or overcooked.
  • 6/10. Using the wrong utensils.

Additional information for properly serving tuna

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

A 3-ounce serving of canned light tuna in water contains about 73 calories. A 3-ounce serving of raw yellowfin tuna contains about 109 calories.

How to buy the best tuna

A crucial factor in tuna etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Tuna is available year-round. The best season to buy fresh tuna can vary depending on the variety and location. Some types of tuna are most abundant in the summer months.

Choose the best

Tuna can be found in commerce in a variety of forms, including fresh, canned, and frozen. Fresh tuna can be found at seafood markets or grocery stores, while canned tuna is widely available in supermarkets.

The most popular varieties of tuna in commerce include yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna, and albacore tuna. Yellowfin tuna is considered the most prized because of its mild flavor and firm texture.

To buy the best tuna, look for a firm, bright-colored flesh that has a fresh ocean scent. The eyes should be clear and bulging, and the gills should be bright red. Avoid tuna that has a strong or fishy odor, discolored flesh, or sunken or cloudy eyes.

Alternatives to tuna

Some common alternatives to tuna include salmon, swordfish, and mahi-mahi.