Best Canned Tuna?
I've been trying to figure out what happened to the canned tuna of my youth - while reading all the spew about every single major vendor of tinned tuna. It is all watery mush - shredded tuna.
I found the answer at the procedures at the FDA to determine what can be called "chunk" tuna.
The bottom line is that the canners are allowed to compress the contents of a can of tuna with a hydraulic press to a pressure of 384 pounds per square inch for one minute. As we all squeeze the water out over the sink by cutting the lid free and squeezing with our fingers - all we need to do to duplicate the canner is to press the lid of a typical 5 oz tin with around 1 1/2 tons of pressure - 3322.27 pounds to be precise. Say the entire weight of your compact car all concentrated on that little 3 1/4" lid.
With these specification they could make "chunk" tuna out of dehydrated tuna POWDER!
There is no "best canned tuna."
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 21, Volume 2]
[Revised as of April 1, 2012]
TITLE 21--FOOD AND DRUGS
CHAPTER I--FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
SUBCHAPTER B--FOOD FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION
PART 161 -- FISH AND SHELLFISH
Subpart B--Requirements for Specific Standardized Fish and Shellfish Sec. 161.190 Canned tuna.
I like the imported stuff in olive oil. ONE time found it in a jar at TJ's and splurged... something like $5 but probably about twice the size of normal can. Big "sticks" of solid tuna in olive oil... delicious! NEVER saw it at TJ's again?!?
Whenever I'm in the supermarket, will always check to see if the "good stuff" is on sale... rarely is... but will buy a few cans when it is on sale. Just yesterday noticed JARS on a higher shelf... brand is Tonnino. Either in water or olive oil... $4.99, 1.7 ounces more than regular can, a bit pricey but really tastey. Will definitely buy more next time I'm shopping. Don't know whether it's a "new" product for the store or I just never noticed it?? Funny thing is, when I checked out their web site... could buy on-line for over $9 a jar... same size??
If you want to try a good-to-very-good one that's easy to find and won't break the bank, try Cento tuna in olive oil. Not as wonderful as the gourmet options that some posters mentioned, but it's pretty good -- and far better than the water-packed stuff that that many of us grew up with.
I like Chicken of the Sea. Be sure to check out their website, chickenofthesea.com. They have great recipes on them. Here's my favorite:
Bloody Mary Tuna Salad
2 (5-oz.) cans Chicken of the Sea® Premium Select Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water
1/2 cup V-8® Vegetable Juice
1/2 cup Celery, diced
1 1/2 Tablespoons Horseradish
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Ground Pepper
Just mix the ingredients together and chill.
I used to like Chicken Of The Sea, but these days their "solid white" just isn't anymore. It's the same flakes and scraps (packed in too much water) that most of the other brands have become, maybe still marginally better than the others.
Too bad, because it really was a _very_ good product at one time.
Wegman's Solid White is the _only_ one I buy anymore. And it's the only one anything like the soild filets that were once StarKist and Bumble Bee...both of those previously decent supermarket brands now rank as _the_ worst of the worst (whether in can or pouch).
And the Wegman's isn't packed in those downsized cans that seem to be prevalent these days.
Anything that says Ventresca. Its that simple. They basically cut a can shaped cylinder straight from the belly steak (Toro), and pack in olive oil. It traditionally comes from Spain, and is about 15 bucks for 4 oz. Central Market (in Texas) has a house brand from Thailand that is almost as good for $5. Ive tried Ortiz white tuna (Bonito), and while flavorful, it still has that dry your mouth out feel. The belly fat of the Ventresca style is moist and arguably the best way to eat tuna hands down. A few peices, salt and pepper, maybe a few capers. Cant beat it.
I didn't read all the posts but thought I would post some links to the best canned tuna in the world. (Bonito Del Norte from the North Coast of Spain!) Basically a tuna but it's caught seasonally and at a younger age than most other tuna's.(always buy tuna with 3% or more fat labeled on can/less than that it's an older tuna)
.mostly Spanish companies although Goya & La Fe both offer bonito del norte from Spain. ...not sure where in Spain it's from but it looks similar
Arroyabe - Bermeo, Spain - www.arroyabe.com
Jose Serrat - Bermeo, Spain - www.serrats.com
El Batel - Ondarroa, Spain - www.consalegria.com
Ortiz - Ondarroa, Spain - www.conservasortiz.com
Ormaza - Bermeo, Spain - www.ormaza.com
Albo - Vigo, Spain - www.albo.es
Salica - Bermeo, Spain - www.salica.es
Escuris - Puebla del Caramiñal - www.escuris.es
La Fe Foods - www.lafefoods.com
Goya - Seville, Spain - www.goya.com
The Italian ones packed in olive oil are very good; I especially like As do Mar. But for me the most exquisite is Ortiz brand from Spain, also packed in olive oil and available in cans and in glass jars. The ultimate is Ortiz ventresca which sells in NYC area for about $10 a can.
At that price you should just buy fresh tuna!
There are two basic things that determine what your tuna is going to taste like: what species of tuna it is and how (and in particular, with what) it's packed.
We did a tuna tasting a while back and tasted a range of tunas. In the end we all liked the European tunas the best, because the species they use is more flavorful (of course if you prefer a really mild tuna, you might find them a bit strong). I believe all the European tunas were packed in olive oil, which raises all kinds of questions of whether its the tuna or the oil that gives it flavor; however we did prefer the European tunas to the American brands packed in olive oil.
The best American brand was Tuna Guys, which is very high quality fish and well packed, but which is a milder variety and doesn't gain any flavor or moisture from being packed in olive oil.
All the others were cat food in comparison, except for the tuna in a pouch, which any self-respecting cat would refuse to eat. It was nasty.
I believe there was a report on our tasting on the general topics board, but the search engine isn't turning it up.
re: Ruth Lafler
Was this your tuna tasting link Ruth?
Anyway I was searching for Julia Child's comments that she preferred olive oil for tuna because it improved the taste and the tuna maintained its texture instead of falling apart like the water based brands.
Didn't find that (but I can still hear Julia's voice on the tv show when she talked about the awful water packed tuna). I did find this interesting page on premium tunu with one can at the price mentioned.
In the link below it says
"Professional taster David Rosengarten is excited about luxury canned tuna. This is not tuna for your everyday sandwich. This stuff is in a league with foie gras and caviar.
David says canned tuna of this caliber can be divided into three categories: ventresca tuna; premium tuna packed in olive oil; and premium tuna packed in its own juices."
There's a Santa Cruz tuna ($5.95) that he likes -
Dave's Home-Style Santa Cruz Albacore Fillets
I don't know where the original post is, but last summer about 10 of us got together and tasted many, many tunas. Below are my notes of the event....
Short Version Recap
The brand was less important than the type of tuna. Albacore tuna is very mild & dry. Tongol tuna is only slightly more flavorful & less dry an albacore. Most tasters preferred the European tuna which was substantially darker, moister and more flavorful. Buy Spanish or Italian tuna in olive oil
We tasted tuna lightly mixed with a small amount of homemade egg-based mayo, a homemade tofu-based mayo and Greek yogurt all three were very good, although the egg mayo was very rich. A number of tasters were won over to using a light or non-fat yogurt.
FYI I was appalled that the olive oil in the Trader Joes Albacore in Oil was rancid. Also, the Starkist drainless tuna that was in the foil pouch was disgusting the texture was like catfood and the flavor was very poor.
Below is more detailed info
* Complete List of the 17 tunas we tasted
* Tuna Species Guide
* CI Tuna Article Recap
* Basic Tuna Salad Recipes
* Chowhound Tuna Salad variation postings
List of Tunas at the Tasting
Trader Joes Chunk Light Tongol - No Salt (0.99)
Trader Joes Chunk Light Tongol - Salt (0.99)
Trader Joes Solid Light Albacore in Water No Salt (1.39)
Trader Joes Solid Light Albacore in Water Salt (1.39)
Trader Joes Solid Light Albacore in Olive Oil (1.59)
Safeway Solid White Albacore in Water (1.85)
Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore in Oil (1.99)
Starkist Solid White Albacore in Oil (1.99)
Chicken of the Sea Solid White Albacore in Vegetable Oil (1.79)
Starkist Premium Chunk White Albacore in Water in a Pouch (2.19)
Daves Albacore Fillets in Olive Oil (6.79)
Flott Solid Light Tuna in Pure Olive Oil (3.29)
Genova Solid White Tuna in Olive Oil (2.89)
365 Tuna Solid White Albacore (1.49)
Brought by tasting attendees
Safeway Select Tongol Chunk light in water (1.30ish)
Tuna Guys Solid White Albacore Tuna (2.50ish)
As Do Mar Tonno Trancio Intero AllOlio DOliva (2.00ish)
Tuna Species Guide from - http://www.atuna.com
Albacore Product Characteristics: Due to its white colored meat albacore is also called " the chicken of the sea". As canned product it is quite popular in the States, where it is marketed as "White Tuna". The meat has a somewhat dry of texture, and the taste comes close to the taste of chicken meat.
Bigeye, Northern and Southern Bluefin tuna are generally used fresh, not canned.
Bonito Product characteristics: The bonito meat has a firm texture and a darkish color, however small / young bonito can also have quite a light color, close to that of skipjack. This is one of the reasons why it is sometimes used as a cheaper substitute of skipjack tuna, especially for canning purposes. The bonito has a moderate fat content.
Skipjack is the most popular tuna for consumption. Normally dolphins do not swim together with the small skipjack, which almost makes it a guaranteed dolphin-safe species. Product characteristics: The meat of the skipjack has a somewhat darker of color sometimes even slightly pinkish. It has a relatively tender texture, and is has somewhat more a fishy taste then some other tuna species. The small size of the fish gives small loins and chunks. Making it excellent for canned tuna chunks.
Tongol Product characteristics: The meat is quite tender and has an almost white color. It has not too much taste. It is by some more appreciated as a canned product then the somewhat drier albacore meat.
Yellowfin Product Characteristics: In cooked form the yellowfin meat tends to have a to very light yellow/brown color. The structure of the meat is quite firm, and the taste is mild. If the fish gets larger then 10-15 kgs the meat tends to become slightly darker and somewhat dryer. The large size of the yellowfin make it well fit for solid pack in cans. Yellowfin is the second tuna species is terms of volume and popularity. It is a big fish, which can swim at very high speed, which may be one of the reasons why in some areas, dolphins and large full-grown yellowfin swim together. Through extensive measures from the side of the tuna industry, and the creation of some very good monitoring programs. Fortunately the volume by-catch of dolphins has become insignificant now in relation to the its natural mortality, and was below 500 dolphins on a global basis.
In July of 1998 Cooks Illustrated did a blind tuna tasting and found that in for their tasters texture had more of an impact than flavor - mushy tuna scored much worse than flaky tuna. They were looking for a good "tuna salad" tuna. They tested the chunk light and solid white varieties packed in water and made by Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, Geisha, StarKist, and 3 Diamonds.
White vs. Light
Chunk light is less expensive than solid white. CI tasters found only one of the five chunk light samples acceptable. In general, chunk light tuna is made of skipjack tuna and/or yellowfin tuna; skipjack contributes a stronger flavor than yellowfin.
Light - Tasters found that the chunk light often included an aftertaste of the tin can. They found the most telling difference between white & light tuna was the texture. White tuna you could eat with a fork, while with light tuna you really need a spoon. When blended with mayonnaise, light tuna breaks down even more (some tasters were reminded of cat food). So light tuna, has a distinct "lack of chew" and it holds on to moisture well so when making tuna salad, you should use much less wet ingrediants or it will become mushy/oozy.
White - Solid white, which usually has large meaty chunks, is exclusively albacore tuna. Some white tuna products promote themselves as Fancy Albacore or Premium Albacore. This is a marketing strategy since there is no difference.
Solid white was the tuna of choice among tasters for its mild flavor, milky-white appearance, and full flakes.
In July of 2002 Cooks Illustrated did a tuna in olive oil tasting....
They three categories of tuna in olive oil: light (bluefin, yellowfin, or skipjack tuna), white (albacore tuna), and imported "white tuna" (bonito tuna).
As with the previous tasting (above), tasters did not like the light tuna because of the metallic can taste and mushy texture. The big surprise was that Dave's Albacore Fillets came last place.
The three favorite tunas were made by Ortiz, a small Spanish company. Ortiz uses Northern bonito white tuna fished off the coast of Spain (which is not used by American companies)
Basic Tuna Salad Recipes
CLASSIC TUNA SALAD
Makes about 2 cups, enough for 4 sandwiches
2 (6-ounce) cans tuna
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
2 T minced red onion
2 T minced dill or sweet pickles
1/2 small garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 T minced fresh parsley leaves
1/2 Cup mayo
1/4 t Dijon mustard
Drain tuna in colander and shred with fingers or fork until texture is even. Put tuna in a bowl. Mix in lemon juice, salt, pepper, onion, pickles, garlic, parsley. Fold in mayo and mustard until tuna is evenly moistened.
Curried Tuna Salad
Makes about 2 cups, enough for 4 sandwiches
2 (6-ounce) cans tuna
2 T lemon juice
1/2 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
2 T minced red onion
1 medium apple, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup currants
2 T minced fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup mayo w/ 1 T curry powder mixed in
1/4 t Dijon mustard
Drain tuna in colander and shred with fingers or fork until texture is fine and even. Put tuna in a bowl. Mix in remaining ingredients (except mayo/mustard). Fold in curried mayo and mustard until evenly blended.
Recommendations from old Chowhound.com postings
It is of my opinion that FRITOS are the ultimate complimentary food to tuna salad, like mcdonald's fries are to cola. i noticed this as a wee child. i eventually started mixing in fritos (a bit crushed) directly into my tuna salad right before i ate it. nice crunch, saltiness. you should really try it.
for fancier tuna, i like to include sun-dried tomatoes, shallots, capers, red bell peppers... (not all together, of course
I add diced medium spicy giardiniera to tuna salad (mayo, lemon juice, celery, sweet pickle relish also).
I love chopped water chestnuts or sunflower seeds for crunch. And no matter what those other people say, you must use mayo.
Tuna - how about a toasted bagel, crisp romaine lettuce, tuna + mayo + avocado + red onion + red bell pepper. (I like the hot bagel + cold topping thing) :)
I've always liked to add shredded carrots and raisins to my tuna salad in addition to mayo (only Hellman's), lemon juice, celery and black pepper. When I feel like I need more veggies in my diet, I've also added shredded cabbage. If I don't add my raisins, I someimes like to add some minced garlic.
I mix a lot of various things into my tuna salad, depending on mood and what I have on hand, but an all time favorite is: FENNEL SEEDS. so delish. they go great with the tuna and also give it a little....not quite crunch, but texture. such a treat when you bite into one. this is good in a simple tuna salad with just some chopped celery and a little mayo.
I like this recipe for tuna salad with caramelised fennel, ricotta and parsley that I found on a cooking blog (link below). I add in chopped black olives and a dash of lemon juice or vinaigrette.
My mom used to make tuna with mayo, red onion, celery, and red apple. I never knew it was "different" til I had friends over as a kid and made them what I thought to be normal tuna. It's so yummy. Also, curry powder makes a great addition. I can't remember if my mom put curry in with that other mix, but I know that I now make tuna salad sometimes with just tuna, mayo, white onion, and curry powder... good flavor and onion crunch. But, more importantly, give the apple thing a try. It's so damn tasty
There is a recipe in the new basics cookbook which has tuna, chopped egg, red onion, green grapes, lemon, mustard and a little mayo (salt, pepper). it is really odd and super-delicious.
Try chopping some kimchee and adding it to tuna, along with a little chopped onion or scallion and just enough yogurt to hold it together (the thicker the yogurt the better).
For tuna, chopped fresh dill, lime juice, chopped red onion, and a WEE bit of mayo and dijon. Simple, and doesn't need a lot of mayo to be tasty. I also like to do a "Middle Eastern" thing with tahini, lemon juice, garlic and chopped parsley.
I like mayo, dill and garlic powder.
Instead of mayo (of which I am not a fan of) I use ranch dressing. From there I get creative adding fresh herbs, or small diced veggies. Then I usually throw the sandwich in the toaster with a slice of cheese, or grill it to make a tuna melt...yum.
chopped celery, bell peppers, olive oil, capes, chopped Italian parsley
sour cream, dash of horseradish, toasted sesame seeds, chopped scallions
I like to substitute mashed avocado for mayo and add olives or capers.
I make a mayo-free "mediterranean" tuna salad by adding diced Kalamata olives, diced capers, chopped parsley, a little diced tomato (preferably a "drier" tomato like a plum tomato), and dressing it with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice, lots of black pepper, and a pinch of dried oregano, crumbled betw. your fingers.
If feeling especially ambitious I'll add a chopped rinsed anchovy and a bit of raw onion.
At Columbus Bakery they make a low-fat tuna salad with dried cranberries, finely chopped apple, and a yogurt based dressing. It's very popular. I used to put a slice of leftover jellied cranberry sauce on tuna sandwiches too.
I like to add some wasabi flavored mayo, sweet relish, diced hard boiled egg, finely chopped celery (or a dash of celery seed) and red onion to taste. If the result is too zingy, you can mitigate with some plain mayo or yogurt. I have to admit, though, Coyote's suggestion of dill is pretty seductive . . .
I put some red or spanish onion in my cuisinart, pulse, add a can of tuna, some mayo and lemon juice and dill (weed or seed), salt and freshly ground black pepper, pulse again a time or three, and I do this at least a couple of times a week. Sometimes sub in olives for the dill.
I put in celery and some prepared horseradish sauce in the tuna or chicken salad. When my husband fixes tuna salad, he puts in a bit of curry powder. Both ways jazz it up quite a bit. D.
So funny about Fritos and tuna ... a childhood favorite of mine as well.
When I buy tuna I am making comfort food. I like Starkist Gold Solid Light in water. It is solid, there is only a little water. You can take the lid off and pour the water off without holding onto anything because the tuna is, as the label says, solid.
I used to do albacore, but stopped for environmental/health reasons.
Also like Wild Planet, don't find it much different than Starkist (but I think I have mixed them--so my opinion may not be valid).
I do think the tuna slush that Bumble Bee et al sell is an abomination.
I really like Dave's Gourmet Albacore. Lots of varieties -- my favorite is the canned albacore in olive oil or the gourmet albacore in its own juices. I also like their canned salmon -- it's the only canned salmon that I like. They have a wide variety of products some of which are sold at Whole Foods (at least in the SF Bay Area Whole Foods.) And if you're ever in Santa Cruz, they have a great outlet store just across the parking lot from Costco.
Here's a link to their website:
I saw Giada De Laurentiis make a pasta dish w/ the Italian imported tuna packed in oil. It looked very succulent and meaty, not at all related to the pallid, mealy, dry American canned tuna. I would def. use that kind for a European dish that called for tuna--like a pasta dish or nicoise salad.
However, if I'm going to make my good ole American tuna sandwich w/ mayo, I opt for Trader Joe's brand packed in water. Doesn't taste as "chemicalized" as Starkist, Bumble Bee, etc.