How to grill tuna collar (焼きマグロのかま)

A well-grilled tuna collar, miso soup and rice might just be my now favourite go to dinner. A tuna collar needs to be grilled out strongly due to its thickness and well insulated flesh. The skin of the tuna is not only thick, but the encasing bones that surround the morsels of edible flesh acts as an impressive heat barrier. There is however, one major advantage of this, which is that because the skin’s thickness and texture renders it inedible, we can grill the outer collar until well charred, giving the meat a deep toasted flavour whilst being perfectly cooked on the inside. If you’re using a smaller tuna head from a yellowtail or big eye tuna, the same recipe works here. 

The underside of a tuna collar

I recommend cooking the collar in the middle rack with the grill and fan on and the collar skin side up as you want to dry out the surface of the skin and toast it as soon as possible. I also recommend only seasoning the collar with sea salt generously as any soy sauce will burn in the intense heat. You’d want to salt it quite heavily as you need the salt to penetrate the flesh through all the cartilage and bone. I don’t season the exposed flesh of the collar, but season the skin side up of the collar with large sea salt flakes that then toast in the oven and dissolve into the flesh. 

Lastly, a trick I use is to cook the collar directly on a roasting tray without any baking paper or aluminium foil and add the soy sauce right at the last minute of cooking when the skin and roasting tray is searing hot so that the moment the soy sauce is poured onto the skin, you can hear the skin crackling. The soy sauce that drips down into the roasting tray should also be sizzling upon contact due to the heat of the roasting tray. This lets the soy sauce sear and meld into the flavours of the tuna fat that will pool on the tray without burning the soy sauce in the heat of the oven. The soy sauce will also wash away and dissolve any remaining salt on the charred skin of the tuna and reduce naturally from the residual heat. My personal preference for this dish is a 3 year aged tamari soy sauce that’s bitterness pairs nicely with the fat from the collar, but any other dark soy sauce (or even light soy sauce will work as well).

Grilled tuna collar (マグロのかまトロの焼き)

Grilled tuna collar (マグロのかまトロの焼き)

  • 1 Tuna collar around 1.3kg (see below for cooking times and weight variations)
  • Sea salt flakes
  • 45ml of tamari soy sauce
5-Year Aged Tamari Soy Sauce
  1. Preheat your oven to 200-210°C without the baking tray in the oven. If possible, the mode you want will be fan with the grill switched on. 
  2. You’d want to preheat your oven for at least 30 minutes to get the heat really going, even if the temperature indication has shown the oven is up to temperature. 
  3. Place the tuna collar on the baking tray skin side up and sprinkle sea salt over it generously.
  4. Place the tuna collar in the oven and cook for 20 minutes for just done tuna. If you’re uncomfortable with tuna that’s slightly pink, you might want to go for 23 to 24 minutes. If you have a small tuna collar around 800g, you can go for 16 to 17 minutes cooking time, but I suggest 20 minutes for most adult sized tuna collars. 
  5. Grilled until well sizzling and slightly charred.
  6. When there’s a minute left, take the tuna out of the oven and drizzle the soy sauce over the charred bits of the tuna. The tuna should be hot enough to crackle slightly when the soy sauce is poured over it.
  7. Place the tuna back in for a minute and serve as is on the baking tray. Can be garnished with a slice of lemon and grated daikon if convenient. 

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