Canned tuna is my version of “mother’s little helper.” It has gotten me off the hook for a fast meal more times than I can remember. Need a quick sandwich for a spontaneous picnic? A tuna salad sandwich is hard to beat. Looking for inspiration for dinner when all you have is a fridge full of salad greens? Take tuna, hard-boiled eggs, potatoes, onion, olives and later in the season, tomatoes and green beans, dress with a simple vinaigrette, serve on a bed of lettuce and you have the oh-so-French, Salad Nicoise. Canned tuna even makes a decent alternative to mac and cheese when cooked in a casserole with egg noodles, a cream sauce and mushrooms.
If you check out the shelves of Whole Foods or PCC, you’ll find that several small fisheries are canning tuna locally. You may remember a consumer boycott of tuna back in the late 80’s. That was the result of dolphins being trapped and dying in tuna nets. Now there are strict standards for the safety of dolphins and the use of deadly nets has been eliminated in most countries.
The three local companies I found all use hook and line and are dolphin-safe. Kimmel’s comes in an actual glass canning jar and is processed in Port Townsend. Fishing Vessel St. Jude is another family-owned business with high standards for sustainability, high omega 3’s and low mercury. Of these three companies, they are the only ones that mention testing for mercury on their website. Unfortunately, mercury is a concern and we would all do well to not get in the habit of eating tuna every night of the week. Tuna Guys is the brand that inspired me to do a taste test. I used it recently in a fairly complicated recipe destined for the “not worth repeating” file. My first taste, before I mixed in so many flavor-masking ingredients, was delicious. I couldn’t wait to try it again, unadorned.
Thus, the taste test. And the winner is… Tuna Guys, hands down. On closer examination, Krista noticed that it was the only one of the three that was packed with salt. Hmmm… that might have something to do with it. It also seems to be moister and needs less mayo for tuna salad. All three are far superior in taste to your everyday tuna and you don’t need much to make an inspired meal on the fly. You also have the added benefit of supporting local, sustainable family businesses.
Lily took her role as a judge in the taste test very seriously.
As it turns out, she loves tuna, especially Tuna Guys. She hasn’t been a fan of tuna salad, but straight out of the can, it was pronounced, “yummy.”
Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium for complete consumer information on seafood sustainability.