Use the Whole Fish — Ahi (Tuna)

After you catch that big ahi or pick one up roadside, you’ll want to know how to get the most from this amazing fish. There are many uses for the entire fish, bones and all.

So after your seared or sashimi ahi dinner, put the fish carcass in the refrigerator and read this blog to find out how you can get more food from your filleted ahi. Don’t waste it!

From one 10 pound ahi, not only will you get the delicious fish fillets but you can also make fish stock, tuna salad and dog food. You can use ono or other fish as well.

First, take your fish, minus the fillets, and rinse it really well to remove most of the blood from the flesh. Then break the back bone into three sections and along with the head, fit them into a big stock pot. Put the rest of the fish into the pot including fins, skin, bloodline and organs. Fill with enough water to cover the fish and cover with a lid. In addition, put two tablespoons of vinegar into the water to help leach minerals from the bones. When it reaches a boil, lower it and let it cook for 3-4 hours until the meat falls off the bones.


After cooking for several hours.

Allow the liquid to cool and then lift out the bones or strain. I use a pot with a deep colander, so I just remove the insert and all the bones and everything come with it leaving the broth behind.

With the stock, boil again, without a lid, to reduce the amount of liquid. This helps condense the stock and make it more favorable. Remove any foam or brown scum from the top of the liquid with a big stainless steel spoon.

You will want to end up with approximately 3/4 of a gallon of broth. When enough liquid is removed through evaporation, take the remaining stock and filter it with a fine screened strainer. I usually leave the last remaining bit on the bottom.  Then either bottle it for the refrigerator or place it into quart-sized bags for freezing.


Reducing stock

You will know you’ve done a good job if the refrigerated liquid is gelatinous. Don’t worry, this will turn to liquid again when heated. This means that the stock contains a lot of collagen which is very healthy. It promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails, as well as protects your joints.

You can use this stock in many ways. It does have a strong flavor but there are many ways to minimize that. Below you will find a delicious Japanese-style soup you can make in 20 minutes from this stock.  Also, if I have extra, scoop a few tablespoons into my dog’s dry food kibble. Which is healthy for them and they enjoy their dinner so much more.

Now it’s time to deal with the head and bones: take out several bowls for sorting. You will need one for bones, one for dog food and one for people food.


Left to right: dog food, human food and on tray bones from a 10lbs ahi

Just systematically reach in and remove your first piece and the meat, skin should be soft and come very easily off the bones.

Usually, if the fish is filleted with precision, the only useable meat for human consumption will be on the head but you may find some white meat on the spine. It will come off in two big white chunks but remove any bones that may come along with it.

Below, I have a recipe for taking this meat and making a most delicious tuna salad or soup far more so than any thing you ever got from a can.

When finished you will find that you get about 1 quart of dog food (bloodline, dark meat, eyeball sockets, skin, guts, etc.), about the same amount of bones and a little less than a pint of human food.


Top side of the ahi cooked head. The white meat to each side is what you’re looking for.

With the refuge–bones, little white hard eyeball thing– I put in my soldier fly worm bin which I keep for live chicken food.

My dogs will relish their dry kibble with a couple of tablespoons of meat and broth mixed into it. Now instead of trying to trash a whole carcass of ahi, I have turned it into an abundance of healthy and delicious food.

Fresh Ahi Salad:


Ahi fish tacos


  • cooked white meat
  • 1/2 finely chopped read onion
  • 3-4 tablespoons of mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c finely chopped celery
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together and serve.

Ahi Fish Soup



  • 1/2 cup of cooked white meat
  • cooked soba noodles (to your liking)
  • seaweed
  • 1/2 juiced lime
  • 1 tbs of coconut oil
  • pepeiao (wood ear mushrooms)
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 3 Asian eggplants
  • 1 quart of prepared ahi stock
  • 1 quart of water
  • 2 tbs of fish sauce
  • 1 tbs of shoyu or soy sauce
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • grated fresh ginger

I precook the noodles but I suppose you could just put them in the soup to cook. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until carrots are cooked and serve. The coconut oil and lime helps give the soup a delicious flavor and it also reduces that extreme fishy taste.

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3 thoughts on “Use the Whole Fish — Ahi (Tuna)

  1. thanks, I cut filet out of a shibi and wasted the head, tail, belly and entrails. Kept thinking what a waste since the filet and back bone was less than 50% of fish.

  2. Pingback: Collecting Wood Ear (Pepeiao) Mushrooms in Hawaii | Kumu Aina Farm

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