Fish can be an important addition to any diet, thanks to the different nutrients that all types of fish have to offer.
With so many options of fish out there, it can take some time to understand the various types and the tastes and textures that each has. Two fish that are often confused with each other are mahi-mahi and tuna, which is also known as ahi.
Is mahi-mahi tuna? Mahi-mahi is not tuna. These two species are from different families and therefore have significantly different tastes, textures, and appearances. Tuna are mostly blue and silver, whereas mahi-mahi can be identified by their bright green and yellow colors.
Being from different families, there is an obvious difference between the two types of fish.
Understanding the differences between them can help you pick the one out that you think you would enjoy more, and just to have some better culinary knowledge too!
Keep reading to find out the differences between the two fish, such as taste, texture, appearance, cooking methods, and more!
Is Mahi Mahi The Same As Tuna?
Mahi-mahi and tuna are two different types of fish and are not the same thing. They come from different families, and should not be confused for each other, even though they are both popularly eaten all over.
Here is a little more about the two fish:
What Is Mahi Mahi?
Mahi-mahi is the Hawaiin name for dolphin fish or dorado. These fish are a smaller size compared to tuna, and have different colors and builds.
Mahi-mahi fish have large mouths with rows of sharp teeth, as they are predatory fish. One of the fastest-growing fish in the ocean, mahi-mahi fish are a renewable ocean resource.
While popularly consumed in Hawaii, mahi-mahi can be found worldwide and can be fished in many places too. They can survive in both cold and warm water but prefer warmer waters.
Mahi-mahi can be identified by their long bodies, unique shape head, and bright green and yellow colors.
This fish is best when sauteed or fried with some lemon, butter, and herbs.
What Is Tuna?
Ahi is another name for yellowfin tuna, which is a species of tuna found in tropical and subtropical ocean areas, such as Hawaii. Both yellowfin tuna and bigeye tuna are referred to as ahi.
Tuna is a large species of fish and can grow to weigh over 300 pounds. It is full of nutrients and has a rich flavor profile. Fast swimmers, tuna have long streamlined bodies, and have a blue and silver appearance.
Tuna fish can be enjoyed in many different ways, whether raw or cooked and is a popular protein around the world.
The Differences Between Mahi Mahi And Tuna
Being from different families, mahi-mahi and tuna have some big differences between them, and getting to know these differences just helps you better understand the fish and their flavors, textures, and how to prepare them.
Here are the differences between mahi-mahi and tuna, and some other handy things to know about both!
If you are going to be eating a type of fish, the first thing you would want to know about is the taste!
When it comes to comparing the taste between mahi-mahi and tuna, there is a considerable difference to be found.
Mahi-mahi is a mild, sweeter-tasting fish, which lacks a very fishy taste. This makes it a great choice for those who want to eat fish, but without it being too fishy.
The darker areas of mahi-mahi do have a stronger flavor, similar to that of swordfish, but it is still considered mild.
Tuna on the other hand has a very strong flavor and is very meaty. It is an oily fish, but can also have a buttery, savory flavor too.
It is a medium-full flavor fish that holds up well on its own. The one benefit of tuna is that it does not have too strong of a fishy flavor either.
If you are not the biggest fan of strong-tasting fish, then you would be better off trying mahi-mahi and not tuna. Tuna is richer in flavor and has a more fishy flavor than mahi-mahi.
The difference in texture between mahi-mahi and tuna is quite pronounced too. Mahi-mahi has a firmer texture than tuna, and when cooked, holds up well, but is still flaky, with larger flakes.
Although it is firm and flaky, it is still beautifully moist when cooked.
Tuna is meatier and almost similar to raw beef. It is oily, but when eaten, it has a creamy, buttery texture. Tuna can be slightly softer and mushy, but it also depends on how it is eaten.
When eaten raw, tuna can be quite meaty and almost like a steak. When cooked, tuna meat does become firmer, but it is still soft and buttery.
You need to avoid overcooking tuna, as if it is left on the heat for too long, it can become dry and chewy.
Preparation And Cooking
Having different textures and tastes means that tuna and mahi-mahi are often prepared differently from each other.
Tuna is also available in different forms, whether it be fresh or canned, so the preparation and cooking do also vary depending on this.
Canned tuna is really convenient, as it provides ready-prepared tuna that can be used in so many ways.
Canned tuna is great to add to some mayonnaise for a sandwich, but it is also ideal for making some quick pasta, casseroles, salads, and on top of crackers for a snack.
Fresh tuna is quite a delicacy and needs to be prepared properly to be well enjoyed. To preserve the taste and texture of tuna steaks, it is often seared at high heat on a grill. There is also a spice blend that is popularly used on seared tuna.
The tuna is seared on high heat until the outside flesh changes color. It is then sliced and served with the middle still pink. It is best to choose high-quality tuna for this.
If you do not want raw fish, then the tuna steaks can be seared until barely pink in the middle, almost medium-rare. Tuna is also very commonly served in sushi too!
Mahi-mahi on the other hand is best when fried. It is often left on high heat to develop a crust on either side, and the most popular pairings include lemon, garlic, black pepper, and herbs.
The mild and sweet flavor of the fish goes so well with these fresh, rich flavors.
Mahi-mahi, being a semi-firm fish, also handles being roasted well, just until it is cooked through and the outside is a golden color.
The Best Substitutes For Mahi Mahi And Tuna
If you cannot come across mahi-mahi and tuna, there are some other fish options that can be used in their place.
It is not necessarily recommended to use mahi-mahi in place of tuna, or vice versa, as they do not share a similar taste.
The texture is slightly similar and they can be prepared in the same way, but as tuna is stronger in flavor, this might be noticeable. If you do not mind a stronger flavor, then this is fine.
The best substitutes for tuna include:
- Black seabass
The best substitutes for canned tuna include:
- Canned red salmon
- Canned pink salmon
- Canned sockeye salmon
The best substitutes for mahi-mahi include:
- Striped bass
- White sea bass
- Rainbow trout
When choosing the best substitute to use for either fish, you need to consider what you would be using it for. For example, if you are looking for fish to use in place of tuna for sushi, then salmon would probably be the best option.
In some recipes, the texture of the fish is more important than finding one with a similar flavor, so keep this in mind when picking out the best substitute.
The Nutritional Benefits Of Mahi-Mahi And Tuna
Both tuna and mahi-mahi have some great nutritional benefits, and both can be included in your diet as a very healthy addition.
Both fish have a good omega 3 fatty acid content and share almost the same amount.
Tuna offers 0.12g of omega 3 per four ounces, whereas mahi-mahi offers 0.13g.
Tuna does have more vitamin B, selenium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorous than mahi-mahi. While mahi-mahi might not contain as much of each, it still offers a good amount.
The one area where mahi-mahi does come out on top is the calcium content. It contains 17mg of calcium per four ounces, whereas tuna only has 4.5mg.
Mercury Levels In Mahi-Mahi And Tuna
One concern that many people have with eating fish is the mercury level that they contain. There are warning levels issued to various fish, and this then suggests how often the fish can be consumed to be safe.
Tuna and mahi-mahi happen to have very similar levels of mercury in them. Both of these fish are listed on the FDA’s good choice fish and can be consumed fairly regularly.
The recommended consumption of mahi-mahi and tuna is one portion per week.
They can both form part of a healthy diet, as long as they are consumed in moderation.
Size Of Mahi-Mahi And Tuna
Mahi-mahi and tuna grow to different sizes. When it comes to tuna, the average size does depend on the species.
Yellowfin tuna can grow up to nearly 400 pounds, with a bluefin tuna reaching up to 550 pounds on average. An albacore tuna is much smaller and grows to about 80 pounds.
Mahi-mahi is a smaller fish compared to tuna, and an adult can grow up to 50 pounds, but generally, they weigh between 30 to 40 pounds.
The lifespan difference between them is fairly varied as well. An Atlantic bluefin, which is the largest tuna, can live up to 50 years.
A yellowfin typically lives between 5 and 9 years. Mahi-mahi has shorter lifespans and can live to around 5 years old.
Tuna belongs to the genus Thunnus, and in this, there are 15 species. Mahi comes from a smaller family, which is why there is less variance between weight and age.
Main Differences Between Mahi Mahi And Tuna
Here is a quick breakdown of the main differences between mahi-mahi and tuna:
Mahi-mahi and tuna are two different species of fish and belong to different families.
The Hawaiin names given to either, being mahi-mahi and ahi, are similar, but that is pretty much where the similarities between the two end. Ahi is tuna whereas mahi-mahi is dolphinfish.
Mahi-mahi is a mild-flavored fish, with a slightly sweet taste. It is not a fishy-tasting fish, which is why it is a favorite among many.
Tuna has a stronger, meatier flavor. While it isn’t necessarily very fishy, it does have more of an ocean taste than mahi-mahi does.
Mahi-mahi has a beautifully firm texture that becomes flaky and moist when cooked. It holds up well to frying and roasting.
Tuna has a meatier, softer texture, especially when enjoyed raw. When cooked, tuna can become slightly hard and flaky, and if overcooked, it can dry out easily.
Mahi-mahi is most popularly fried in lemon butter and garlic. It develops a great golden crust on the outside, and the mild flavor of the fish pairs well with the lemon and butter.
Tuna can be prepared in a variety of ways. It can be bought canned and served on sandwiches, in pasta, or in casseroles. Or it can be lightly seared over high heat and sliced. It can be cooked through, or it can be served raw with sushi.
Now that we’ve gone over the differences between mahi-mahi and tuna, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
Is salmon or mahi-mahi healthier?
Salmon has a similar protein content to mahi-mahi and contains vitamin A and types of vitamin B like mahi-mahi does, but it has a higher fat content.
The high omega-3 fatty acid content in salmon gives it a fat content nearly 6 times that of mahi-mahi, although this is still only 6% of the daily recommended intake per 3.5 oz serving.
Is mahi-mahi halibut?
Mahi-mahi is not halibut, but it does taste similar and has a similar texture to halibut. Mahi-mahi is a dolphinfish, whereas halibut is part of the flounder family and is a flatfish.
If you’ve got some fresh mahi-mahi you want to cook up, here’s a great recipe on how to do so!