I Can’t Get Enough of This Hot Tinned Tuna

The convenient, flavorful pantry staple is my tried-and-true.

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October 13, 2021
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One of the few good things to result from the pandemic has been a pervasive appreciation for tinned fish. It’s as if tinned fish took off her glasses for everyone to finally realize that she is indeed “hot girl food.” Influencers, bloggers, and general enthusiasts took to social media this year to profess their love for anchovies, sardines and other seafood dunked in glossy olive oil and encased in equally glitzy tin packaging. It’s likely the tinned fish craze took off because of the pandemic when, more than ever, people sought out shelf-stable pantry items and prioritized health-forward, sustainable foods to alleviate their home cooking. Many have spoken highly of its high protein content that’s readily fueled their quarantine activities, from working out to painting. But as the tinned fish fan club grew larger, the greatest revelation, it seemed, was that the stuff just tasted fantastic and paired well with just about anything. Safe to say, tinned fish has experienced a major glow-up and has shot up in popularity. As a fishhead myself, this has been an absolute joy.

It’s become my pastime to go fishing on the internet or the grocery store, to scour through every tiny jar, can and tin of teeny, tiny, tasty fish. I love exploring the brave new shores of tinned fish; but even when I’m not, I keep it reel with my tried and true: Korean spicy tuna.

The first thing to cross my mind about this provision is not “hot girl food,” but the most perfect food. Other types of tinned fish are nicely oily and briny, but need to be doctored up with some sort of creamy agent and textural components like sour cream or butter plus a seedy topping or fresh herbs. A can of tuna from the Korean food brand, Dongwon, needs none of that, however. The soft flaky, tender fish comes marinated in a lightly spicy-sweet red pepper sauce and bulked up with diced radish and potatoes.

Having it in your pantry on the regular means you’re always only one crack of a can away from an instant snack or meal. Toast up crusty bread and slather on this saucy fish, and you’ll get a delicious helping of spicy tuna toast. Pour it atop a bed of simple salad greens, and one fell toss will magically concoct a complete salad that checks off boxes in both flavor and nutrition. At my laziest, I’ll microwave some day-old rice, drench it with half a can of tuna and pop a runny egg on top, and call it quits in the kitchen for the day. It’s no wonder this is one of Korea’s most popular types of flavored canned tuna.

The term hot girl food has been thrown around so much with tinned fish. However, I’ve noticed it’s a descriptor mostly reserved for more artisanal varieties. But this can of Korean spicy tuna is a complete package of robust convenience and utmost fishy flavor that has saved me during many meal dilemmas. The way I see it, it’s the hot girl that’s here to stay – spicy, delicious but practical enough to remain a pantry staple long after the trend fades.

I pick up a couple of cans on every trip I make to my local H Mart, but they’re also available for purchase on Amazon.

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