Since You Asked: Canned tuna labels depend on species

Other than price in the grocery store, what is the difference between solid white and chunk light tuna?

— Pat H., Eagle Point

It's all in the species.

Albacore tuna is the only tuna that can be classified as white-meat tuna. It's canned in larger chunks. The fish typically weighs 10 to 25 pounds, but some get as large as 100 pounds.

Tuna labeled "light" or "chunk light" is commonly from the smaller skipjack species. It's pinker and comes in smaller chunks or flakes. This is the most commonly packed, canned tuna. Yellowfin tuna, which has light-pink flesh, also falls under the "light" category.

Tuna comes in many varieties on grocers' shelves, from seasoned and marinated to packaged in easy-open pouches. Pay close attention to labels.

All canned tuna is cooked, then packed in oil or water. Oil-packed tuna will have more calories. However, some of the world's highest-quality tuna from Italy is packed in olive oil and promises unbeatable flavor.

Much canned tuna is high in sodium. Some brands now have low- or reduced-sodium varieties.

You can make your own, better, low-sodium version with fresh albacore, in season off the Oregon coast. Cut 1 pound of fresh tuna into 1-inch pieces and combine in a pan over very low heat with 1 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, a bay leaf and strip of fresh lemon peel. Add black pepper or a few slices of fresh chili and garlic, if desired.

Keeping the oil temperature to 160 F or lower, cook for about 15 minutes until the tuna just begins to flake. Cool the fish in the oil to room temperature and store in the oil, in a tightly sealed container, in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.

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