Canned tuna is forever

When used wisely, tuna can be a powerful tool — ready to take on the world, or dinner.
When used wisely, tuna can be a powerful tool — ready to take on the world, or dinner.

If you’re thinking, no you’re wrong. I am not.

Do you all remember quarantine? Do you remember stock-piling essentials for 14 days at a time (no more, no less). Do you recall the anxiety that ran through your veins? What if there’s no bananas? Water? Bread? Beer? What if there’s no— toilet paper!

Well we all ran out of something, didn’t we? During those weeks (months) spent alone or dangerously close to the ones we love, we did run out of the essentials we most ordinarily rely on. But what we did have lingering in the deep, dark depths of our cupboards and pantries — was tuna.

It came time to scavenge, think outside the box, get innovative. Despite your best efforts you gave into the tuna.

You probably made a sandwich. The usual suspects, mayo (Hellmans if you’re not a savage,) maybe some pickles? Celery? Slopped it onto a heel of bread and choked it down. I applaud your noble efforts. But looking back, what could your tuna really have been?*

Well I’m gonna tell ya. Tuna is much more than gray-ish, watery hunks of sodium and mercury. It is fishy magic in a can. And ya, this might get personal.

It’s convenient. Like, very convenient. You need roughly 8 seconds to open a can, depending on your can opener. Inside you’ve got an already cooked, seasoned, complete protein. Do not come to me and say “but it’s fish,” we’re way past that. Anyway, from here, the possibilities are endless.

Remember pasta? Another quarantine all star. It goes great with tuna. Here’s why. The saltiness of tuna will add so much to whatever you have on hand and makes it more of an actual meal. Got some linguine, maybe a few strands of spaghetti? Add your drained tuna, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, a splash of that pasta water and whatever wilty herbs you have in your fridge and you’re gold.

It came time to scavenge, think outside the box, get innovative. Despite your best efforts you gave into the tuna.

Alternatively, if you have kale or any other substantial leafy thing in your crisper- chop it up and add lemon juice, whatever is left of the parm, flaked tuna and perhaps an egg yolk and you’re halfway to enjoying a salad.

Don’t care to look at the stuff? Well tuna makes a great sauce base so close your eyes and throw it in your blender and add mayo, citrus juice, something spicy such as harissa or chili flakes, add olive oil and some water and then proceed to put that sauce on everything you own.

If you’re like me then you absolutely have leftover rice on hand. Add tuna to that. Pile sliced cucumbers, a spicy-gingery sauce, maybe some thinly-sliced carrots and scallions on top and you may even smile a little bit.

Do you see what I’m saying? Tuna needs us. We need tuna. As much as we want to keep it in the darkest parts of our cupboards (and our hearts,) it wants only to be loved (and used). Don’t be ashamed. Flaunt it. Tuna is a powerful device which, when used wisely, can uplift your spirits and bring joy to your meals.

*I absolutely love tuna sandwiches. I adore them in fact. Here is my recipe for a pretty sweet one.

What to buy (because in reality, tuna is not forever).

I thought maybe you’d like some input here. I would usually say “grab the cheapest can you can find!” but please, read your canned fish.

You’ll find: albacore, skipjack and yellowfin (most commonly).

Albacore can contain three times more mercury than skipjack, which is usually sold as “light” tuna.

Worried about sustainability? You should be! White tuna may not be the best choice on the sustainability front. Globally, albacore is considered a near-threatened species. Therefore — choose wisely. On top of this, not all tuna is required to label species, so stick to the ones that do and feel free to read more about the tuna fishing industry at your leisure.

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