Sunday, May 6, 2007

Whatever Happened to Tunafish?

May 6

Time was when a can of tuna yielded a delicious mass of soft, oily, fishy flesh -- great with a little lemon juice, mayonnaise, onions and pickle relish to put between pieces of white bread. Something in the processing (hours of cooking, I'm told) gave it a distinctive "tuna" taste that was edible right out of the can, or placed in a classic Salade Nicoise -- a composed salad with sections of cooked potatoes, green beans and tuna on lettuce.

Somewhere along the low-fat way, the product changed to a dry -- "packed in water" -- chewy-textured, undistinguishable block of something else. The only way to get anything like the old tuna is to pay through the nose for imported products, packed in olive oil.

Never mind. The new stuff can be converted by draining and marinating it in olive oil, but it won't be quite the same. If you don't remember the original, you may actually enjoy it.

I like the dressing I make using yogurt-cheese, that is, yogurt that has been drained for at least 24 hours, with equal parts of mayonnaise, with a little lemon juice and salt added, as a sauce for the new tuna. If you want to make a tonnato sauce for chicken or veal, you'll have to use the Italian oil-packed tuna or add extra olive oil to the mixture.

Dry tuna just doesn't make the grade. It may be acceptable to those who have grown up deprived of the old canned variety, but even they should appreciate the enhanced version. I just wish we could convince American canners how much money they'd make if they'd revert to their old ways.


Anonymous said...

Today's canned Tuna is disgusting. I call it wet Tuna! It's tasteless and dry plus, about 45% of the contents is water. This is just another of the multitude of examples of how the general quality of life has deteriorated horably over the years. I feel sory for the young generation that will never know how good it was in the past.

Mary Lois said...

If you're willing to pay a little extra, pick up a can of tuna that was processed in Italy. It tastes just like tuna should, and once did in America.

It can be found in gourmet groceries or in stores in Italian neighborhoods.