7.7.06

muy bonito! part one.

I'm talking about fish, see? I now understand seafood in cans.

I've been eating a lot of seafood in cans lately, mostly tuna and sardines, and here I wanted to try and just verify that I'm buying the very best I can afford, because it's just great already.

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Instead of doing my own taste-test research, I found out that David Rosengarten conducted "The Great Tuna Taste-Off" after being sucked into the same vortex of wonderfulness in which I found myself after eating European tinned tuna. I'll quote a little bit here:

"...I must confess: it took me a while to put canned tuna on my personal hoo-hah list. That's because the supermarket tuna I grew up with-the main ingredient in my beloved tuna-salad sandwiches-was doing the job perfectly well for me. Bumble Bee solid white in oil, some mayo, coupla slices of white bread-who needed something better in 1977? This stuff wouldn't have won any prizes in gastronomic competitions, but it did its job extremely well.Then came the Great Supermarket Tuna Quality Decline. I'm not sure when it began, exactly, and why. It may have had something to do with the passion for water-packed tuna that transformed the industry about 15 years ago....Apparently, there are a lot of Americans these days willing to buy tuna cans at the supermarket that contain muddy, gritty, falling-apart bits of fishy fish, tuna that I think would be hard to distinguish from cat food in a blind tasting. Firm-textured, mild-and-buttery hunks of tuna in supermarket cans are nothing but pure nostalgia now."

Right, that's the tuna I grew up with, the post-1977 tuna. I never thought anything was wrong with it until I lived in Italy and had "tuna salads" that redefined the name.

So, Rosengarten tests 200 tins/jars of tuna and concludes:

"Did I find tuna that replaces my beloved Bumble Bee of old for the preparation of tuna salad? Yes I did, to be sure. What I've found, in fact, in that style, is even better than Bumble Bee ever was. But there's more. The most important thing is that I found canned tuna out there that goes beyond, that I would never, ever use in tuna salad-canned tuna so good that you'd be crazy to do much to it at all, other than take it out of the can."

I haven't really had any of the latter category yet...but my Dani Bonito del Norte (Spanish, packed in olive oil, at 1 euro 50 per tin) is a huge step in the right direction. I can't stop eating it. Here's the salad that I've been eating at least twice a day lately:

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bonito del norte with sweet onions and mint

1 135g tin of bonito del norte, drained (not rinsed)
1/2 large sweet onion, coarsley chopped
1/2 cup toasted almonds, pistachios, or hazelnuts
1/2 cup currants or golden raisins
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
as much fresh mint as you'd like, I like about 2 tbsp.

Mix everything together. Serves 1.

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It's just horn-tootingly addictive. And, it's less than 300 calories, full of heart-healthy nuts, olive oil, you get it. I made two rather complicated things for a dinner party last night, and I really really should've just made this and saved myself a few hours in the kitchen.

By the way, what is bonito del norte? Far as I can tell it's maybe a breed of tuna that swims near the shore off northern Spain? As far as I know, they're line-caught, dolphin-safe, etc. They may be overfished, in which case the world has my apologies. I'm also not eating very locally, am I. My shame almost outweighs my desire for another bite of this salad. C'mon, I'll do other things right, I promise.

Part Two (fingers crossed): Building a Better Sardine.

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2 comments:

Ibiter said...

I don't know what part of the U.S. you live in, but there's tons of Bonito off of southern California from LA to baja. I have 25 pounds of line caught bonito in my freezer right now.

Catesa said...

yay tinned seafood! lol im crazy for the stuff, i eat mackreel, sardines in sunflower oil, tuna in water, crab in water....oh i could stock my pantry for a lifetime supply with all the variety and live a perfectly comfortable life :) enjoy your tinned seafood!