Skipjack tuna, which accounts for nearly half of global tuna production, is known for its strong flavor and attractive pink, fatty and chunky flesh. Skipjack is the most abundant commercial tuna species, common in tropical and warm, temperate waters of Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans where it inhabits surface waters in large shoals.
Scientific name: Katsuwonus pelamis. Genus: Katsuwonus, Family: Scombridae.
|Skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis). Photo credit: U.S. Food and Drug Administration.|
Skipjack is also known by many local names as Atlantic bonito, oceanic skipjack, skipper, stripe bellied bonito, Aku (Hawaiian), bonite (French), bonito del Sur (Spanish), palamatu (Italian), and Serra (Portuguese).
Skipjacks are epi-pelagic fish living in large shoals in tropical warm waters. Adult fish lives at a depth ranging from 0-250 m during the day but is limited to near-surface waters at night. They are opportunistic feeders preying on any forage available, predominantly small fishes like herring, sardines, and crustaceans, cephalopods, and mollusks.
The life-span ranges between 6 and 10 years. Adult skipjack tuna measures 70-90 cm and weigh 10 to 16 lbs.
Skipjack matures around 2 years of age and spawns in batches throughout the year in warm equatorial waters.
Skipjacks are athletic, fast-swimming medium-sized oceanic fish among tuna species. Their scaleless, fusiform body is elongated and rounded. Their body features purplish-blue back, and silvery lower sides and belly, with 4 to 6 very conspicuous longitudinal dark bands. A strong keel on each side of the caudal-fin base between 2 smaller keels.
Skipjack is an oily, saltwater fish. It is one of the finest sources of essential fatty acids, protein, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, E and D.
Skipjack is moderately high; 100 g holds 103 calories and 22 g/100 g (39% of RDI) of protein. Its dark, pink meat is firm and composes all the essential amino acids in good proportions.
It's lean meat is a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Studies suggest a diet rich in fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like canned tuna, can curb or prevent cognitive decline, dementia, depression, neuropsychiatric disorders, asthma, and inflammatory disorders.
Skipjack tuna contains just 0.144 ppm of mercury in its flesh. US FDA categorizes skipjack in the "best choice" section considering mercury levels in its flesh. The recommendation is consumption of 2-3 serving (8-12 ounces) per week for skipjack.
Bonito is a moderate source of omega-3 eicosapentaenoicacid (EPA), docosapantaenoicacid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids. Research studies suggest that these fatty acids, particularly DHA, play an important role in the development of nervous system, especially in infants and children.
According to Cornell University and the New York Sea Grant Extension Program. 2012- the fatty acids play crucial role in decreasing blood pressure and heart rate and help improve cardiovascular function. For example, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) that can lead to sudden death.
Bonito contains small amounts of vitamin-A (52 IU/100 g) in its flesh; Nonetheless, its liver carries high amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids such as ALA, DHA and DPA which help maintain healthy mucosa and skin.
Skipjack chunks compose many B-complex vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (B-6). It is also a good source of vitamin-E, vitamin-B12, thiamin, and riboflavin.
Further, it is a natural source of rich minerals including iodine, selenium, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Iodine is an important trace element in human nutrition and is essential for thyroid hormone production.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||1.01 g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
|Folate total||9 μg||2.25%|
|Zinc||0.82 mg||7.5%||Omega-3 fatty acids (PUFA)|
|EPA (20:5 n-3)||0.071 g||--|
|DPA (22:5 n-3)||0.013 g||--|
|DHA (22:6 n-3)||0.185 g||--|
Wild skipjack tuna caught mainly using purse seine nets, hook, and line, gill nets, or long-line fishing boats. Most of these catches are destined for canning or pouching.
Skipjack usually marketed as "chunk- light" tuna. Buy canned or pouched from authentic brands for superior quality and safety. It is also marketed as fresh, frozen, or dried flakes. In Japan, dried bonito is known as "katsuobushi" (bonito flakes).
The shelf-life of unopened canned skipjack (light) tuna is up to four years, provided that the product has been stored under normal conditions and is not damaged. Pouched tuna has a shelf-life of up to three years.
As with any seafood products, canned tuna should not be kept at room temperature for extended hours.
Once opened, it must be kept in a refrigerator. If wrapped properly and stored in the fridge, it should last for around three days. For extended storage, transfer the tuna in a glass jar or freezer bag and store it in the freezer for later consumption within the next few months.
Fresh tuna is sold as steaks and sometimes as fillets or chunks (pieces). Most often, however, it is canned whole, in chunks, or in brine.>p>Skipjack meat is strong-tasting, firm, pink fish.
Serve it raw (sushi), poached, braised, grilled, baked, or cooked whole (en papillote or al cartoccio).
Here are some serving ideas:
|Skipjack tuna steak recipe. Photo credit: Keith Williamson|
Skipjack (Katsuo) is a popular sushi fish in Japan, where it enjoyed in sashimi and sushi rolls.
Shaved bonito flakes (katsuobushi) and dried kelp-kombu-are the main ingredients of dashi, a broth that forms the basis of many soups (such as miso) and sauces in Japanese cuisine.
Skipjack tuna salad- mix evenly greek yogurt, fresh lemon juice, mayonnaise, diced celery, diced Spanish onions and ground black pepper in a separate mixing bowl and stir. Add this mix to light chunk tuna and keep in the refrigerator.
Prepare American style tuna-casserole.
In the Filipino cuisine, skipjack tuna stew is prepared in coconut milk - ginataang tulingan.
In many South Asian region, tuna curry prepared in coconut milk is served over steamed rice.
The Methyl-mercury content of fresh/frozen skipjack tuna is 0.144 PPM, and hence, categorized as the "Best Choice" fish. FDA advises that one can eat 2 to 3 servings a week from the "Best Choice" list (adult 1 serving = 4 ounces). To compare canned albacore tuna and fresh/frozen bigeye tuna have 0.350 PPM and 0.689 PPM respectively.
Also read <<-Salmon nutrition facts and health benefits.
Further reading (Links opens in new window):
Species Fact Sheets -Katsuwonus pelamis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.