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Cooking with Cured Tuna Hearts

What are cured tuna hearts?

Bluefin tuna have been migrating to the Mediterranean Sea for thousands of years. Even before they were threatened by the modern commercial fishing industry, bluefins were considered a rare and valuable commodity. In the coastal and island regions of Spain and Italy, local chefs know better than to waste a single part of precious bluefin tuna. Even the heart of the fish is transformed into a delectable treat that can enhance Mediterranean seafood and pasta dishes.

To create this unique product, producers remove the relatively large heart from the tuna during harvest, keeping it whole and in-tact. It is then cured with sea salt and pressed with weights to compress the salt into soft muscular tissue together. After being pressed for 20 days of dry-curing, the tuna heart becomes a firm steak that is packed with flavorful brine. 

How do you use and eat cured tuna hearts?

These firm heats are most commonly shaved over pasta, sauces, salads, soups and chowders to add a salty, umami, taste of the sea. Tuna hearts are a great substitute for bottarga, and can be utilized in other cured fish recipes. When thin sliced, the hearts are often served with lemon and olive oil, paired with fruit or used to make gravlax.

These hearts are low in fat and packed with protein and Omega 3 acids, and vitamins such as A, B12, E and D. Recipes for using this product might be few and far between in the USA, but without much effort, tuna hearts can easily add a powerful flavor of the sea to any dish.

More information and recipe ideas for tuna hearts:

Cured tuna recipes for mojama and bottarga that can use tuna hearts as a substitute