After a wonderful Dover sole last year, Alistair from the Fish Society offered up something that would change the way I see canned tuna. Ortiz brand Ventresca de Bonito del Norte is already their best selling canned (or should I say tinned) seafood but they want to spread the word to those of us overseas.
Ventresca is the Italian term for tuna belly. In this case, Ventresca de Bonito del Norte is belly meat from “white tuna” aka albacore. You may be thinking, what is the big deal about albacore? Well, these are cuts of albacore you don’t see in cans with Charlie or Horatio Bee on the label. It sounded great but I wondered what the difference would be compared to your regular can of solid albacore tuna. Before I knew it, the box came in from The Fish Society with three tins of Ortiz brand Ventresca.
The tins came in sturdy red cardboard boxes with ingredient and nutrition information in several languages. Once out of the box the oval shaped tin was in good shape and as you can see, has a convenient pull tab. Americans are just starting to discover the wonderful world of conservas – high quality tinned seafood like you would see in a Spanish tapas bar.
The tuna was packed in oil that was obviously higher quality than what you normally see with tuna in oil. The thin cuts of ventresca were easily separated with a fork. You could tell immediately this was no ordinary can of “solid white albacore” that you make sandwiches from. The tuna itself, being belly cuts, can have a pinkish hue because it has more fat than the parts used in typical canned tuna. That fat is what makes it so tender, it is almost spreadable.
How To Prepare Ventresca de Bonito
Simple is best when dealing with a product this good. All you need is some good bread and some of the olive oil from the tin. If you want to jazz it up tapas or pintxos style, get some green olives, cherry tomatoes or pickled vegetables to top the tuna and bread. It would be very easy to drown out the subtle notes of the ventresca, so don’t overdo it.
I don’t think I’d ever use the term “silky” to describe canned tuna, but here we are. The ventresca was silky smooth, melt in your mouth tender, without any fishy flavor. It has the familiar taste of albacore, but the 4k IMAX version. It’s smoother and so much better than anything I’ve tried out of a tin. Alistair told me it was special, but I was surprised at how good it was. On thin pieces of baguette, it needed nothing, and you could tell the oil it was packed was good quality as well.
I brought two tins down my grandparents for the family to sample on grandma’s homemade Italian bread during Sunday dinner. This group of taste testers included at least three family members who have caught tuna commercially. My dad has caught bluefin, yellowfin and albacore, while my grandfather once harpooned a 600-pound bluefin off the bow of the family dragger. Needless to say, these guys know good tuna, and they were floored by how good this was. Everyone who tried it exclaimed “Wow! where did you get this?” on first bite. Seriously, it’s that good.
Having a few tins of this tuna in your pantry is like having money in the bank. Next time you need to make a culinary statement, all you have to do is open one up.
A big thank you to The Fish Society for sending me this wonderful tuna for review!