Canned tuna is cheap, but often of inferior quality. The tuna is dry and tastes mostly of salt. I have found good quality ‘organic’ canned tuna from the Ortiz brand, but that is more expensive than sashimi grade fresh tuna. So when I read about tuna cooked sous-vide with olive oil at 71ºC/160ºF for an hour as a tasty alternative for canned tuna on SVKitchen.com, my interest was piqued and I decided to give this a try. As the tuna will be pasteurized with this cooking time and temperature, it is perfectly fine to use frozen tuna for this that is a lot cheaper than sushi grade fresh tuna.
I’ve used the cooking time and temperature as determined experimentally by SVKitchen — I didn’t see the need to perform my own experiments this time around. SVKitchen adds preserved lemon, which I don’t have and decided to replace with simply lemon zest.
I was quite happy with the result. The cooking time and temperature will turn a piece of tuna into something that closely resembles canned tuna in texture and color, only more succulent and flavorful. The tuna will definitely be ‘well done’, not ‘medium rare’ at all as is usually the aim of sous-vide cooking. I prefer fresh tuna to be eaten raw or only seared, but this is certainly a good alternative for canned tuna if that is called for in a recipe. Especially in recipes where the tuna stands out (such as a Niçoise salad), it is worth using sous-vide tuna confit rather than canned tuna. I haven’t tried this side by side, but from memory I’d say it’s also better than Ortiz.
extra virgin olive oil (about 1 Tbsp for each 100grams/3.5 oz of tuna)
salt (about 1/4 tsp for each 100 grams/3.5 oz of tuna)
lemon zest (about 1 tsp for each 100 grams/3.5 oz of tuna)