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March 03, 2011

March Fish of the Month: domestic, pole caught albacore tuna

CanTuna March's Fish of the Month is domestic, pole-caught albacore tuna.

Tuna casserole, tuna melt, tuna salad – as a country we have an appetite for tuna. Canned tuna is a staple for many American pantries, but it was not always this way! How did this ocean dweller become a seafood favorite?

In the early 1900’s, California sardines were increasingly overfished, so Albert P. Halfhill, a local fish canner, substituted tuna in his sardine cans. Halfhill’s business boomed as canned tuna became popular for its taste and convenience. It even became a chief source of protein for American soldiers in World War I. Today, this accidental industry is in high demand as the second most consumed seafood in the U.S. market.

Yet, the name "tuna" is a misnomer for a diverse fish with over 48 species worldwide. Each species has its own ecological challenges including overfishing and bycatch, the marine life unintentionally caught and discarded during fishing.  Many tuna species are long-lived predators with low reproductive rates, making them highly vulnerable to overfishing. Combined with high consumer demand, many tuna struggle to maintain healthy, wild populations.

Never fear, the Right Bite team has a solution! One tuna species, albacore, matures early and is highly fertile, making it more resilient to fishing pressures.  Even more, purchasing pole & troll-caught albacore tuna ensures minimal bycatch of other sea life.  Most tuna are typically caught with longline fishing gear which stretches up to 65 nautical miles behind a boat! Each line has intermittent vertical hooks, catching whoever may be hungry. A simple, ocean-friendly solution can be made by supporting domestic pole & troll-caught tunas. We especially like pole-caught albacore by American Tuna, which has been certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. Look for this brand in the seafood department of your local Whole Foods Market.

Try our Lemony Risotto with Herbed Tuna or our Tuna Salad and Cucumber Canoes to support healthy oceans on your dinner plate tonight!

Lemony Risotto with Herbed Tuna
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

- 1 (6 ounce) canned American Tuna pole-caught albacore, liquid drained and reserved
- 6 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
-
2-3 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
-
2 tbsp. lemon juice
-
1/2 cup minced onions
-
3 garlic cloves, minced
-
Salt and fresh ground pepper
-
1 1/2 cups Arborio or white rice
-
1/2 cup dry white wine
-
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions:

1. Combine reserved liquid and stock into saucepan, simmer on low

2. Flake tuna in bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, rosemary and lemon juice

3. Heat remaining oil in new saucepan over medium heat, adding onion and cooking for 5 minutes

4. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, salt and pepper to taste

5. Add rice and stir continuously for about 1 minute

6. Pour in wine and stir until it just about evaporates

7. Add 2 ladles of stock to cover rice, stir continuously until almost absorbed

8. Repeat #7 by adding stock and stirring rice for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until rice is "al dente"

9. Stir in tuna mix, peas and 1-2 ladles of stock, adjust seasonings to taste


Just for Shedd’s Seafoodie Kids!

Tuna Salad and Cucumber Canoes
Makes 4 servings, Great for kids!

Ingredients:

- 1 medium cucumber
- 1 red pepper
- 1 six ounce can American Tuna pole-caught albacore, no salt added & liquid drained
- 2 hard-cooked eggs, diced
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup goldfish crackers

Directions:

1. Cut cucumbers in half lengthwise and discard seeds. Then cut each cucumber piece crosswise to make four equal "canoes."

2. Cut red peppers into small, thin slices to make the canoe "paddles"

3. In medium bowl, combine tuna, eggs, celery, seedless grapes, mayonnaise and salt

4. Divide mixture into each of the cucumber "canoes" and decorate each "canoe" with at least two red pepper "paddles."

5. Add a handful of goldfish crackers to each plate for garnish

Posted by Brooke Havlik, conservation

Want more recipes? Check out Shedd's Sustainable Seafood page!

Fish of the Month is sponsored by:

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