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Premium Canned Tuna
You'd never recognize this ultra-premium product as canned tuna—and you'd never mash it up into tuna salad.
Published July 1, 2011. Appears in Cook's Illustrated July/August 2011
What You Need To Know
The imported European equivalent of sushi-grade toro, ventresca tuna is cut from the fatty belly of either the bonito del norte or yellowfin species, and the buttery, tender, olive-oil packed slices make a luxe addition to any Niçoise salad or Spanish tapas spread.
Most of the six brands we tested (priced from $1.20 to $4.72 per ounce, plus shipping) stood head and shoulders above regular supermarket canned tuna. One in particular left tasters swooning over its “creamy, delicate” meat boasting “full, rich tuna flavor.” We think it's worth the occasional splurge, but since it fetches $35 for 8.5 ounces before shipping, we gladly elected a more frugal alternative: The “firm-fleshed,” “briny” ventresca yellowfin fillets from our Best Buy cost one-quarter the price ($7.99 for 6.7 ounces) and can be found in some supermarkets.
Everything We Tested
This Spanish import’s “tender” yet “firm” fillets garnered raves from tasters, who enjoyed its “rich” “fresh,” “intensely tuna-y” flavor so much that it was deemed good enough to eat “as-is without any accoutrements.”
At one-quarter the price of our favorite ventrestca tuna, this yellowfin sample was a relative bargain—but no slouch. Its “large, dark pink flakes” were “firm-fleshed” yet “very moist and tender,” with “assertive,” “briny” flavor that tasted “like the sea.” A perfect addition to any appetizer platter, according to one taster.
Impressed by this sample’s “great meatiness,” “richness,” and “concentrated,” “pronounced flavor,” tasters likened this tuna to “dark-meat chicken.” To most, the “nice big flakes” offered “good chew,” though a few tasters found them slightly “dry.”
At a whopping $4.72 per ounce, this was the most expensive sample we tried—and it made a convert of one self-proclaimed canned tuna–hater, who declared, “This stuff is fantastic!” The “moist,” “supple” chunks were so large that they dwarfed one taster’s fork, and were “tender” enough to “melt in your mouth,” though a few tasters found their flavor “way fishy.”
Most tasters found this tuna’s “firm,” “toothsome” flakes “appealing” and praised its “richness,” “assertive tuna flavor,” and “lemony finish.” However, there were more than a few comments that the fish was distractingly “salty.”
These “firm tan-pink rectangles” were “salty and a little dry”— almost “cured,” according to a few tasters—with a texture that some tasters deemed no better than “generic canned tuna.” Still, others found the chunks pleasantly “firm” with a flavor that was “sweet, meaty, and rich.”
Reviews you can trust
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.