Sunday, January 23, 2011

american tuna

I need to tell you about this tuna.


First of all, if you are happy with your brand of canned tuna, go away. Don't read this post. Stick with the tuna you have. Don't make yourself miserable.

Second, I got this tuna for free as part of a Serious Eats tasting panel which I don't think has ever been posted. It was one of several ingredients, but it's the best of them. They gave me two cans. I still have one.

Because I'm saving this tuna for a special occasion. It sells for $5 a can, which is $15 a pound. It's packed in neither water nor oil - the can is simply filled with tuna and a little salt. (It also comes in flavors apparently.) "Cooked only once in its natural juices." I don't know anything about standard tuna-canning practices, so I don't know if that's a surprising thing or not.

I don't like canned tuna. I really dislike tuna noodle casserole, Tuna Helper, tuna salad, and tuna salad sandwiches. I never liked them, not as an adult, not when I was growing up. I have only ever eaten them to be polite. This is just one of those little quirks you can use to impersonate me after my death, like how in my teens and twenties everyone I dated was 23 and in alphabetical order.

I like fresh tuna just fine, but I was still pretty skeptical of this canned tuna, until we made the most amazing sandwiches with them, based on the pan bagnat sandwich. I took the tuna, divided it among two pistolette-sized rolls, dressed it with sliced onions and chopped garlic and plenty of smoked olive oil, and made sure to salt it, and wrapped them individually in Saran wrap and let them sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavors mingle.

Holy shit.

One of the best sandwiches I've ever had.

Okay, sure, the smoked olive oil helps here. There are two brands of smoked olive out, one from California and the other one - this is the other one, smoked over pine. I haven't had the domestic, it might be great, but I know this one is (sorry I'm forgetting the name, but La Tienda sells it).

But the tuna!

I don't even know how to explain why it's so good. It tastes like tuna! Like real tuna. Not like canned tuna. And it doesn't have that cat food smell. But there's got to be more to it, because somehow I know using freshly cooked tuna wouldn't make the same kind of sandwich as the canned stuff did. It's like this can of tuna tastes to me like what other cans of tuna taste to people who for some weird reason love canned tuna. Like I finally get it.

$15 a pound sounds ridiculous, but it's $2.50 a sandwich, and I've made cold cuts sandwiches that cost that much, and steak sandwiches that cost considerably more.

But still.

I'm saving this can for a special occasion.


  1. Hey Bill, my dad and my grandpa catch and can American Tuna. It's really the finest. I eat it just about every day on account of the endless supply in grandma's garage. I'm glad you like it too!

  2. That's awesome! Yeah, I'm a big big fan (and the post is wrong about my saving the can for a special occasion - I bought a twelve-pack the first chance I got). Far and away the best canned fish. My thanks to your family!

  3. This is the only canned tuna I eat..worth every penny!

  4. Great review! I also had a similar tuna epiphany last month with American Tuna...and then purchased 12 cans online immediately....

  5. I have a large family, so I buy the 4 lb can and it gets gobbled up in a couple of days. I'm not sure how the cost per lb compares to the 6 oz cans but I do know that I have no desire to eat any other brand of canned tuna after trying American Tuna!

  6. I'm a huge fan of this tuna as well. Will NEVER go back to any other canned tuna. I mix it with a little olive oil, onion and capers. Delish!