A Fresh Take on Tuna

A Fresh Take on Tuna


Homemade Preserved Tuna

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 2 Hours

April 4, 2017  •  By Seamus Mullen

Ortiz canned tuna from Spain

Growing up, I was indifferent to canned tuna, but the first time I had it canned in Spain, I completely changed my tune on tuna. The Spaniards are fanatical about their canned seafood, and tuna is no exception. In recent years, high-quality Spanish tuna has become available in the US; however, I see absolutely nothing wrong with making our own when we have high-quality yellowfin in season.

preserved tuna fish

It’s a sad reality that the choices we make in the kitchen have an environmental impact, but unfortunately they do. Blue fin tuna has been over-fished to the point of endangerment, and if we continue to consume it at the current rate, we’ll lose this magnificent creature forever. Other members of the tuna family, like yellowfin and bonito, are far more plentiful, just as delicious, have healthy stocks, and are a much more responsible choice when cooking with tuna.


  • 1 pound freshest available yellowfin or bonito tuna

  • 1 pound kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon pimenton (Spanish paprika)

  • 4 cups olive oil

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 4 sprigs thyme

  • 8 guindilla or other dried peppers

  • The outer peel of 4 lemons, cut with a vegetable peeler


  1. Combine salt and pimenton, and mix in a non-reactive bowl and add the tuna, covering thoroughly with a salt and sugar mix. Set aside in the refrigerator for 1 hour to cure, then remove, thoroughly rinse, and pat dry.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients in a large pot, and heat over very low heat to 125° F, ideally using a candy thermometer. Add the tuna and gently cook for 10 minutes until the tuna is just cooked through but not dry.
  3. Remove the fish to a plate lined with a paper towel and wait for both fish and oil to cool.
  4. Divide the fish into four small, sterilized canning jars fitted with a flip-top lid and top with the olive oil and herb mixture.
  5. Process the jars in boiling water for a minute to seal it and then store in the refrigerator. The tuna will keep for up to three weeks and is perfect flaked into a salad, or rolled up in some nori with a soft-cooked egg!