Unlike lean types of white fish that have a light or white color, flakey texture, and mild flavor, both tuna and salmon are dark in color, have a firm texture, and stronger flavors.
Tuna is a large, muscular fish with flesh that ranges from pink to dark red depending on the variety. The color comes from myoglobin, an oxygen-storing protein found in muscle (2).
Myoglobin breaks down quickly when heated. Thus, cooked and canned tuna looks grayer than raw tuna.
The albacore, or longfin tuna, is a popular tuna variety. It has a lighter-colored flesh and milder flavor, and it’s usually grilled or seared. Canned albacore tuna is commonly referred to as white tuna.
Yellowfin tuna is another common variety. It’s smaller in size and a darker red. This variety is often used for sushi, although it can also be seared or grilled. Yellowfin tuna is also known by the Hawaiian name ahi.
If you buy canned light tuna, you’ll likely get one or a combination of yellowfin, skipjack, or tongol varieties.
Raw tuna steaks or fillets can be used raw in sushi, or marinated or seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper, and/or herbs before cooking for extra flavor.
Because this fish is low in fat, it’s usually cooked to medium-rare (125°F or 52°C) to retain moisture. Overcooked tuna can be unpleasantly dry.
That said, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends cooking all seafood to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) to prevent foodborne illness (3).
Canned tuna is always thoroughly cooked during processing. It’s not a rich, flavorful delicacy like seared tuna, but it’s a convenient food to have on hand. For example, it’s an easy way to add protein to salads and a popular sandwich filling.
The flesh of salmon ranges from pink to deep reddish-orange. This is a result of its diet, which comprises krill and tiny crustaceans. These are rich in colorful carotenoids, namely astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is heat stable, so unlike tuna, salmon remains red even when cooked (
Common varieties of wild salmon include coho, Chinook, and sockeye, all of which live in the Pacific Ocean. If you opt for Atlantic salmon instead, it’s almost always farm raised.
There are subtle flavor differences between the varieties, but salmon is generally described as more strongly flavored, oily, or fishy than tuna.
Similarly to tuna, you can enjoy salmon raw in sushi or a Hawaiian poke bowl, or cook it, if you prefer. When cooked, it’s more tender and flakes more easily than tuna.
It also contains more fat than tuna, which keeps it…