The skipjack tuna is a saltwater fish found in many areas around the world, and is the most common commercially caught tuna. They are often used in Japanese cuisine as a substitute for yellowtail tuna, and are the primary tuna sold across the planet in cans as “fresh light” tuna. As with most fish, the skipjack tuna has many health benefits for consumers, including high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA, and healthy protein.
Skipjack tuna live in almost every ocean in large shoals. Up to 50,000 fish may live together in one group. They generally prey on smaller fish, crustaceans, and mollusks and also provide a food staple for large predatory fish and sharks. Because they reproduce quickly and live in such large groups, their numbers are considered sustainable in comparison with how many tuna are caught by humans each year. They are also one of the healthiest fish for the same reason, thus providing more health benefits to people.
Generally, skipjack tuna is considered to be safe to eat, although they can be moderately high in mercury levels from contaminated water. For this reason, women who are pregnant should eat the fish in moderation. Those who are not pregnant can consume more safely, although lower mercury fish like salmon may be healthier options if fish is consumed multiple times per week.
Although the skipjack tuna itself is considered a fully sustainable commercial fish, they catching methods used for fishing are the topic of debate. Tuna nets frequently catch other species of fish and even some endangered animals such as turtles, sharks, and dolphins. This has resulted in many deaths of at risk seas creatures and has been heavily scrutinized by the environmentally conscious.
Aside from being purchased by millions of people each year in cans or frozen, the skipjack tuna is a very popular option in Japanese cuisine. The Japanese call the skipjack katsuo and typically make it smoked and dried. It is then added to other dishes or used as fish stock. It is also sometimes used as a less expensive option to the yellowfin tuna or yellowtail tuna, which is often pricier to buy and prepare.
The skipjack tuna can also be prepared in various other ways, including being grilled or broiled. Many recipes used for other types of fish like salmon can be applied to the skipjack. There are also pre-flavored and smoked options alongside the well known tuna cans, with tuna being sold in small pouches. This tuna can be served on crackers or in various recipes.