ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cooking with Canned Tuna

Updated on May 11, 2011
Source

Why you should consider it

Canned fish is one of those things that gets a bad reputation undeservedly. I like to think of it as the equivalent of a subcompact car; it's something that you only buy when the real thing is out of reach. However, canned tuna can be versatile and, when used properly, quite tasty, all for a decent price point.

I have to be honest; when I was younger, I was one of the above. I believed firmly and without doubt that the best place for any type of canned fish was mixed with mayonnaise and placed between two slices of bread. Then, I got to university and things changed a bit. Not for the main reason you may think, though.

Cost was certainly an issue, oh yes; fresh tuna is currently over $20 per pound where I live and thus well out of reach. However, when I purchased by first cans of tuna for my own use, I made a discovery that rocked my world: canned tuna is good in its own right. Furthermore, I discovered (mostly through trial and error) that it is quite versatile.

Nutritious and cheap

Canned tuna has a very interesting set of properties from the home cook's point of view: it is cheap (depends on the brand, I admit; I'll get into that later), tasty, widely available and keeps, for all intents and purposes, longer than an equivalently sized piece of granite. OK, this is workable.

Did I mention that it's nutritious already? If I didn't, I have now. Because it is. A cursory glance at the label on a can of tuna (store-brand) yields the following data:

Serving size 1 can

  • 1.0 grams of fat, none of it trans or saturated
  • 60 milligrams of cholesterol
  • 440 milligrams of sodium (a bit high but, again, it varies on the brand; many are lower than this)
  • 120 calories
  • No fewer than 26 grams of protein (over 20% by weight!)

The ingredient list reads well, too: Skipjack tuna, water, vegetable broth and salt. The cost for this seemingly magical superfood? 77 cents.

For a more complete breakdown of nutrition, Nutrition Data gives a complete breakdown of all relevant, and indeed present, nutrients. A quick glance reveals that canned light tuna is a great source of selenium (useful in thyroid metabolism), as well as vitamin B12 and niacin .



Downright tasty, too

There are many varieties of canned tuna available at nearly every supermarket. There are a number of different textures/"cuts" that reflect the different levels of meat separation. "Solid" is essentially a small fish steak in the can (sans bones), while "flake" is quite loose and can really only be used for salads. "Chunk", which I prefer, is in the middle of the two extremes.

Tuna can be prepared in a number of ways. Sandwiches are the old standby, but think outside the bread: pastas, salads, rice dishes and a wide variety of options can be called upon instead.

A simple pasta recipe would read as follows (for 1 person):

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2/3 cups of canned tomatoes (or fresh; I choose canned because the tomato juice can also be used to impart more flavour)
  • A pinch of basil
  • A pinch of oregano
  • 1 tsp capers (more to taste)
  • 4-5 black olives, quartered
  • 1 thick (0.5-1.0 cm) slice of onion
  • 1/4 of a red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder (or 1/2 to 1 clove of real garlic, to taste)
  • 1 can of chunk light tuna packed in water (this is important)
  • 3 ounces fettuccine or spaghetti noodles
  1. Drain tuna
  2. Mix with onions, garlic powder and oregano is a small bowl
  3. Heat a sauce pot, sprayed with cooking spray, over medium heat
  4. Add tuna and onion mixture; saute for 3-5 minutes
  5. Add tomatoes and tomato paste; cook for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat
  6. Heat a larger sauce pot with water to boil pasta to al dente level
  7. Add pepper, olives, capers and basil.  Cook to reduce.
  8. In the last few minutes, drain the pasta and mix it in with the sauce. 
  9. Serve, with a salad

This is a very simple recipe, yet it works every time without fail!



Safety concerns

Canned tuna is often given a label as unsafe, both due to its environmental impact and also due to concerns over toxins and contamination. The FDA sets a limit of up to 12 ounces of light tuna per week due to methylmercury concerns. The logic as to why tuna even contains mercury is simple: It is an apex predator in its ecosystem, and thus eats all things below it in the food chain. Each of those absorbs a small amount of mercury from its environment (stored as fat-soluble methylmercury), which is retained in each higher link in the chain, in a process called bioamplification, or biomagnification. Health Canada says that most varieties of canned tuna are safe to consume regularly, although albacore could cause concern. Most canned tuna that I purchase is skipjack, which tends to have lower levels.

Another concern with tuna is environmental sustainability. Of the available canned varieties (commonly skipjack, albacore and yellowfin, among some others), the NOAA  data seem to show that skipjack is the least overfished (search for species under Fishwatch).

Conclusion

 Well, here we are then.  Hopefully I have helped to shed some light on this much-maligned pantry staple and have given some of you inspiration to take a can of tuna, a delicious, nutritious and versatile ingredient, and do something with it other than make a sandwich.  At the risk of making a fish pun, "school's out"!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)