Tuna trio tasting
[ Wine & Dine ]

Tuna Trio: A Tasty Twist

My mother has always been a great cook and had a hot meal on the table 7 nights a week throughout my childhood. I know, I know, I’m super lucky. Occasionally, when my dad had to work late, mom would make us boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner. It was a rare treat. My brother and I would be SO excited … until she dumped a can of tuna and frozen veggies into the mix, making a rustic tuna casserole of sorts. She was determined to serve us a “complete meal.” Ugh. To my 7-year-old taste buds, it totally ruined the creaminess and cheesiness of the macaroni. Insert sad trombone noise here.

Fast forward to my 20s, when I discovered a newfound appreciation for tuna. But not the flakey stuff packed into a can with water. No, I’m talking about sushi. Yes, I love fish now, and tuna is among my favorites. It’s so healthy too, packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids (which protect your heart). Did you know tuna is America’s most popular fish?

One of my favorite restaurants, Bluewater Grill, recently hosted a Tuna Tasting. Essentially, this was the ultimate experience for tuna fans — a far cry from the stuff in the can (which, coincidentally, I do eat now from time to time, but NEVER in macaroni and cheese!).

Bluewater Grill provided me with a complimentary meal. Regardless, all opinions, photos and text are my own. Please read my disclosure policy for more information.

Do You Have Tuna? Go Fish!

The menu featured the freshest, sustainable Bluefin, Bigeye and Yellowfin tuna prepared sashimi and tataki-style in the Japanese tradition. According to Bluewater Executive Chef Jason Mazur, tataki-style involves marinating the Bluefin, Bigeye and Yellowfin in vinegar and garlic before searing it briefly over a hot flame.

Ginger and wasabi

It was served on a bed of noodles, and garnished with shaved carrots and microgreens. On the side, we enjoyed soy sauce for dipping, wasabi and pickled ginger.

The best part about tasting a trio of tuna side-by-side is that you can notice the differences you might not otherwise catch if you ate them at separate meals. For instance, the Bluefin was my favorite — so fatty and bold. The others were certainly delicious too. Bigeye is the tuna you’re probably most accustomed to eating in sushi bars or buying at restaurants and grocery stores. And finally, the yellowfin, which gets its name from the fish’s yellow fins, has a lighter taste and color. If you like a more mild fish, this is the one for you.

Our meals were paired with Japanese Sapporo beer and sake and Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. They both complemented the subtle differences in the proteins perfectly.

Sapporo beer and wine

Consistent with Bluewater Grill’s strict commitment to seafood sustainability, all varieties of tuna served during the tasting complied with sustainability standards established by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach or other third-party organizations dedicated to fish-origin certification.

Pre- and Post-Tuna

We ordered an appetizer of crab cakes prior to our tuna feast and they were absolutely delicious. They were served at a perfect golden brown, on top of a zippy sauce that wakes your taste buds right up.

Crab cakes

And although we barely had any room left for dessert, we were not-so-forcefully talked into having a piece of keylime pie (read: there was no arm twisting, who are we kidding?!). Now, I’m mostly a chocolate girl, as in, if the dessert doesn’t have chocolate, what’s the point of eating it? But this keylime pie was the perfect combination of tart and sweet and the crust was second to none. My boyfriend and I basically fought forks to ensure we each got our fair share. I’m not great at sharing, I’ll admit, but he was downright ruthless.

keylime pie

In addition to the original location in Newport Beach’s Cannery Village, there are Bluewater Grills at King Harbor in Redondo Beach, in the Camelback neighborhood of central Phoenix (my neck of the woods), in Temecula Wine Country in Southern California’s Inland Empire, in Coronado over the water on Glorietta Bay, on Catalina Island over the water in Avalon Bay, in Carlsbad and Santa Barbara.

Offered on the second Tuesday of every month, Bluewater Grill’s monthly tasting events allow seafood aficionados to satisfy their cravings in a spirited setting featuring the latest seasonal fresh fish varieties and commentary by the restaurant’s resident seafood experts. Resident chefs and seafood experts at each restaurant will be available to discuss preparation techniques, tips and recipes.

Sapporo and Sake

Upcoming tastings include:

Tuesday, May 8, at 6:30 pm – Inside Passage Tasting: Salmon Challenge. Salmon aficionados are treated to a sampling of the freshest King, Atlantic and Sockeye salmon varieties, both wild and farm-raised, to determine their favorite. The evening includes a special pairing of wines from Oregon and Washington. The cost is $34.95 per person and available on May 8 only.

May 9-31 – Inside Passage Menu:  Oysters, Cedar Plank Salmon and Halibut. Bluewater Executive Chef Jason Mazur combines freshly shucked oysters on the half shell from Washington and British Columbia with Cedar Plank Salmon from the Pacific Northwest and wild Alaskan Halibut. Bluewater’s sommelier has paired the menu with Northwest wines for $34.95 per person.

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