Jim Dixon wrote about food for WW for more than 20 years, but these days most of his time is spent at his olive oil-focused specialty food business Wellspent Market. Jim’s always loved to eat, and he encourages his customers to cook by sending them recipes every week through his newsletter. We’re happy to have him back creating some special dishes just for WW readers.
Americans eat a lot of canned tuna. While per-capita consumption dropped by nearly half over the last couple of decades, we still scarf down about a billion pounds of the stuff, most of it in sandwiches. The majority of the product in cans is OK at best, and problems with slave labor, overfishing, and mercury make a lot of it even more unpalatable. But here in the Pacific Northwest, we produce some of the best canned tuna in the world, and while it can be hard to find, it’s worth the search.
The tuna we put in cans is Pacific albacore, one of the more sustainable, because they’re caught using a hook and line. Younger fish, the type of albacore harvested off the Oregon and Washington coasts, don’t accumulate mercury like the bigger, older tuna that usually go into cans. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch gives Pacific albacore its highest rating.
It tastes great, too, since the small canneries usually pack the fish in their own juices, and they only get cooked once during the process. Most canned tuna comes from fish that’s cooked before canning, and then cooked again as the cans are processed. It’s more expensive, but the supermarket tuna is cheaper because it’s subsidized by human and environmental exploitation.
Our local albacore makes a killer sandwich, but don’t limit yourself. This simple dip is quick, easy and delicious. I like it with tortilla chips.
Albacore & White Bean Dip
1 1/2 cups cooked white beans
1 7-ounce can Pacific Northwest albacore (packed in its own juices or olive oil)
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher-style sea salt
1/2 smoked paprika, aka pimentón
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, blitz until smooth. Serve with tortilla chips, crackers, or bread.