Everything You Need to Know About Cooking With Canned Tuna

You can cook almost anything with it.

IMAGE Dairy Darilag

If there is one canned meat that may be the most versatile, the canned tuna is it. Tuna is a super meaty canned fish. It comes in flakes, chunks, and solid pieces of the fish. The flavors range from the plain cooked tuna to the tuna that mimics your favorite kind of ulam. There's even a can of tuna cooked as a paella! 

This range of ways to cook and eat the tuna may be why the canned tuna is so popular! 

Canned tuna really is one of the most versatile and easy to use meat in your kitchen. So, if you have a can and are wondering how to use it in a recipe, this is how you can use a can of tuna to cook almost any dish:

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1 Use the right can of tuna. 

The most basic can of the tuna that is used in many recipes is the plain tuna. Unless the recipe specifically says that you will need another kind of tuna, whether it's the spicy version or the flavored-like-your-favorite-ulam variant, most recipes will call for the plain tuna kind. 

Unfortunately, even the basic plain can of tuna has a few variants as well. These come in different sizes, both the cans and the tuna that it contains, so it's a good idea to note these down when the recipe states a particular size can. You might end up with a tasty dish that disappointingly just doesn't have enough tuna or a dish that has too much tuna that the flavors of the recipe is lost in the amount. 

Photo by Patrick Martires
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2 To drain or not to drain. 

As with most canned goods, canned tuna is also packed in some kind of liquid during the canning process. For tuna, these are either canned in a water solution, a kind of oil, or in a sauce. Depending on the recipe, you can opt to not drain the can and instead, add the entire contents to your dish. For others, you can drain and reserve the liquid for another use or to use later in the recipe. 

One of our favorites ways of using the entire contents of the tuna can is to use the reserved oil as the cooking oil. Since this oil as packed with the tuna, the dish emerges more flavorful. This makes your dish taste better and ultimately, tastes like it has more tuna than you may have added. 

Another way to reuse the canning liquid is to simmer it down. This liquid is usually lightly seasoned but just in case, taste it before adding it in so you know whether you will need to omit the salt later in the dish.   

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Photo by Alyssa Guerra

3 Add it before the vegetables. 

Since canned tuna is already cooked, you may be wondering when is the best time to add in the tuna. The answer is usually right before the vegetables are added. This is because vegetables need just a little bit of time to cook and since tuna breaks down, the vegetables will also get tossed in with the bits of tuna that flakes off the larger chunks. You not only get a dish that is loaded with tuna, but the vegetables and other ingredients that are in your dish also get a little tuna flavoring, too, when it's all mixed together. 

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Photo by Dairy Darilag

4 Cook it until just heated through. 

Now that your tuna is in the pot or pan as well as the rest of your ingredients, you just need to cook it until heated through. All this means is that the dish should come to a simmer, for a few minutes, so that all the ingredients are hot all the way to the inside. This includes the tuna pieces. Since it's already cooked, you don't need to cook it for very long. It's one of the reasons why recipes that use canned tuna are so fast and easy! 

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Need some tuna inspiration to make into a dish? Here are some canned tuna recipe ideas for you to try: 

 


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