What's in the Can? — All-Star Academy: The Competition Continues

Food Network Kitchen reveals what's actually in your favorite can of tuna so you can cook like an All-Star.
tuna melt

During the latest episode of All-Star Academy, the remaining contestants got a double whammy — they all had to share guest mentor Robert Irvine and create a winning dish using a mystery canned good. Once all the cans were opened, we learned that chicken, ham, tuna, salmon and clams were on the menu. Some of you may have run for the hills faced with such a challenge, for those of you left, which canned protein would you have wanted?

We in Food Network Kitchen (well, some of us) would go straight for the tuna. But not all cans of tuna are equal. There are many types from which to choose. Below is a little bit about what's in the can.

Some tuna types and fishing methods are more ecological than others. When you're shopping, look for labeling that says the fish were "troll" or "pole-and-line" caught, as these are more environmentally friendly fishing methods. Additionally, skipjack and tongol tunas are usually rated higher on sustainability scales from places like the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Here's a quick visual guide to the types of canned tuna you're likely to find in stores:

canned tuna

©2015 Food Network

2015 Food Network

Solid Light Tuna in Water or in Oil: "Solid" means larger pieces, which might be better for a green salad or in a pasta dish. "Light" indicates the rosier color of tuna from species like skipjack, tongol, yellowfin and some other varieties.

Yellowfin Tuna Fillets in Water or Oil: Yellowfin refers to the species of tuna, and fillet is the cut of tuna the meat comes from. Packed in water or oil is up to you based on your personal preference and intended usage. Oil would be a good choice when you don't plan on adding other flavorings to the tuna.

Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water or Oil: Albacore is a species of tuna that has the lightest-color flesh compared with the other varieties, and per the FDA is the only species that can have the "white" label. It's possible that you'll actually get more heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids from tuna packed in water. In oil-packed tuna, the tun'’s natural fat can mix with the added oil, so you may be tossing out your omega friends when you drain the can.

Chunk Light Tuna in Water or in Oil: "Chunk" means smaller pieces. "Light" tunas typically have lower levels of mercury than "white" (albacore) tuna. Chunk light tuna tends to be the most economical of all the canned tuna options and is great for a classic mayonnaise-based tuna salad.

Chunk White Albacore Tuna in Water or Oil: Again, "chunk" means smaller pieces. Though tuna packed in oil may have extra flavor depending on the type of oil it's packed in, it may also have up to double or triple the calories as compared with water-packed.

Hand-Packed Wild Tuna in Oil: As you can probably tell from the name, this is the creme de la creme in the canned-tuna world. Keep a special eye out for the word "ventresca," which is tuna that comes from the belly of the fish and is also known as toro. It has deep, buttery, complex flavors and a creamy texture (and is a personal favorite of many in Food Network Kitchen).

Don't forget to watch All-Star Academy on Sunday at 9|8c.

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