The Best Locally Produced Canned Tuna


I have like canned tuna since my high school days. Back then, our canteen had huge freshly baked pan de sals with different palamans (fillings) and my favorite was a mashed up tuna and mayonnaise concoction that was tuna-ish, rich, sweet and comforting all at the same time. Once I headed off to college in the U.S. Northeast, I continued to have tunafish sandwiches, shifting from pan de sal to whole wheat bread, often with some shredded lettuce and possibly some sliced tomato. tuna2Whenever I purchased canned tuna in the U.S., the newly opened can almost always yielded a fairly smushed up or flaked meat ranging from a paler color to a darker hue. Back home in Manila, the first few cans I opened seemed to have even darker meat and increasingly a fishy smell and more oily consistency. Smashed up and mixed with mayonnaise, the semblance of tuna flakes almost completely disappeared, almost turning into a fishy spread. Exposed to European tuna, like this PHP500+ bottle of Spanish tuna in the second photo, I had evolved into the wonderful bottled or canned tunas from Italy and Spain that had huge whole pieces of “white meat” and a delicious, non-fishy flavor. This was the tuna that originally made the vaunted Salade Nicoise so enjoyable…

So I was ecstatic when a friend of ours conspiratorially served us some canned tuna one Christmas holiday several years ago…saying it had come straight from the owners of the company and this spectacular tuna wasn’t commercially available yet. It was good. tuna3Almost as good as the best Italian tunas I had tasted. I was green with envy and couldn’t wait till it was available to the general public. Turns out, it was the premium tuna of the company, Century Tuna. Yup, the firm with the cheesy “your abdominals will miraculously look like my model figure abs” advertisements! Actually, any tuna is considered a great diet food…lots of protein and limited fat. It has the good oils as well. But this specially canned tuna is terrific; and at roughly PHP150 a can, pricey but well worth it. The tuna must come from the choicest part of the fish (the belly?) and it isn’t all crumbled and mushed. Preserved in olive oil, it is canned with a slice of carrot possibly for a touch of sweetness, and a bay leaf for aroma and flavor. If you see it at the grocery or specialty food store, make sure you try it. Actually, it has been available in limited quantities for the past two years but I intentionally didn’t write about it for fear it would sell out. I am just happy we have such a quality product locally available. Many of you may not realize it, but the Philippines, along with Indonesia and Thailand, are some of the leading suppliers of tuna for all those millions of cans of tuna sold in the U.S. like Bumble Bee Tuna… Oh, and here’s a final MM/Bond 007 Diet Tip… If you want an ultra healthy sandwich, just flake some good tuna add freshly squeezed lemon juice, Tabasco, salt and pepper and put it between two slices of whole wheat bread…it’s terrific and the lack of mayonnaise makes it really rather good for you…add sliced tomatoes if you want a little more moisture!

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41 Responses

  1. It’s irony we supply the US with good quality tuna yet it is sparsely available in our local markets! Must be the money behind all of these international trading policies we have. Choice cuts go to export and the rest to local markets???? I love tuna in my sandwich with finely chopped celery. Celery accentuates well with tuna – sucks all the unsavory taste. I love canned tuna too in my salad with Italian or balsamic vinegar dressing.

  2. hmm… while i personally wouldn’t spend Php150 for a can of tuna, i guess it’s worth it if you’re a fan. I buy amazing tuna fillets at the market for only Php250 a kilo, any suggestions on how to “preserve” it like the canned ones? (for those i’m craving for tuna times) guess the most obvious is to drown it in olive oil with various spices. Not too sure on how long that will last though..

  3. am actually happy with blue bay tuna (the spicy one). It also has carrots and a bay leaf. I make my tuna sandwich with hot and spicy tuna in oil (drained well), chopped hard boiled eggs and chopped fresh green bell pepper mixed in light mayo with S & P to taste over good crusty bread!! heaven!!

  4. renee, that mixture sounds good!! Nikita, I know, the price sounds like nosebleed material but you have to try it once… As for preserving, I suppose the canned tuna is poached first then marinated in spiced olive oil. I have never made preserved tuna from scratch but it certainly sounds like a good idea to do so! Isabelle, I feature my salade nicoise “recipe” before, click this link. Maria Clara, yup, the best often leave, like the 8 million pinoys working so hard elsewhere to keep another 40 million folks back home clothed, fed, educated and text savvy…

  5. PHP150 a can? I’d rather buy 7 cans of Mechado/caldereta Century tuna. But I might try it sometimes. Where is it available MM?

  6. wendell, I get it at Terry’s Selection on Pasong Tamo or I suppose their branch at Podium might have it. It is pricey. But think of it as Kobe Beef vs. local tenderloin… You can close your eyes and taste and feel the difference. Of course, for some folks, this may not be worth it. But it is to me…

  7. century tuna rules! i usually bring 36 cans back with me whenever i visit Manila which is 2-3 times a year. for some reason, the ones in oil and brine are not available here but the other flavored varieties are. starkist has nothing on our century tuna which has huge flakes.

  8. I sometimes find Century Tuna CHUNKS in the grocery stores. Great for Tuna spreads

    This is a good alternative if you do not want your tuna to be too flaky or “smushed tuna” as MM says.
    You can adjust the flakiness of the tuna to the consistency you prefer. It only costs probably less than 10 pesos more than the “flakes” version.=)

  9. Yeah, Century Tuna is great. I buy the Premium line products, which are the ones with the red labels (only available in the supermarkets), as opposed to the regular line with the white labels (the stuff available in the convenience stores). The Premium line products are chunkier and meatier, and are around PHP 30-35 a pop.

    As it turns out pala, may mas-premium pa sa Premium line nila, haha. Thanks for the tip, MM! But yeah, PHP 150 a pop is a bit expensive ;-) Pero sige, masubukan. I loooove tuna!

  10. there is this store in market! market! that sells frozen fresh tuna, named RDEX. they say their fish came straight from GenSan. all products are vacuum-packed. there are tuna cubes, fillets, even crazy cuts which are sold at P40 per half kilo. not bad.

    when i want an easy quick ulam, i just open one pack of tuna crazy cuts, saute in butter and garlic, add a little soy sauce, sugar and pepper…sarap sa bahaw!

  11. Hi, Marketman! Good to know that you liked Choice by Century Tuna. Century Tuna is my client and we are those who do those “cheesy your-abdominals-will-miraculously-look-like- my-model-figure-abs” ads. He-he. But, hey, it works! Low-fat, high protein, and with your regular gym work, it should get you to your ideal Bond figure sooner :-) Have some in my pantry now, compliments of Century. How can I send you some (or maybe my clients will, as I intend to send them this post, if you don’t mind). Choice is really great. Do you know the tuna is handcarved, not machine processed? That’s why you get strips not just chunks or flakes. And yes, that’s the tuna belly part. It’s not for sale but given to Century special friends. But I saw Choice at Terry’s in Podium, sold at P130 per can!

  12. Pahabol. Fact is, the Philippines is the leading supplier of tuna for all those millions of cans of tuna sold in the U.S. like Bumble Bee Tuna. So why fork out dollars on those US brands when most likely the fish is from Century Tuna. Buy Filipino na lang. Sarap din naman!

  13. Folks, you might want to try mixing your tuna with light mayo then add either dill or capers, salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Always best with crusty bread like tuscan bread from italiani’s.

  14. The owners of Century Tuna used to give these away as Christmas gifts. I think they were made from tuna bellies, which gives them their unique taste and texture.

  15. Hooray for high-quality local canned tuna! I bet that’ll be good in all sorts of pasta dishes. But here’s a question–what are we supposed to do about the supposed high mercury levels in tuna? Pregnant women (at least in the US) are told to have tuna only once a week.

  16. hi MM. tuna is one of my staples. i like the hot and spicy century tuna. throw it together with some fresh lettuce and it makes a nice salad. thanks for the tip re: the premium tuna. definitely worth trying!

  17. Here’s a good recipe for a delicious tuna filling: dice carrots, celery and onions (optional) and add to a low-fat yogurt and mix into the tuna with salt and pepper to taste. You will get a sweet, crunchy and sarap palaman.

  18. I didn’t know that that kind of Century Tuna is expensive. We always get a box or two of that Tuna at home. MM, what else can I do with canned tuna aside from using it as a sandwich spread?

  19. Siempre MM still didn’t state where to buy the precious stuff! Wink! ;) Good thing I’ve spotted these canned babies and they are divine! Isang platong kanin na mainit lang ang katapat in construction worker portion of course!

  20. My husband, and I, love tuna. Like you it reminds me of when I was younger and I had tuna sandwiches (which my classmates loved because our timpla was yummy). I make it now with mayo, finely chopped onions (white), a little dijon mustard, lots of pepper, and a spice mix I have which has dill and lemon, and my favorite “leaves” to go in the sandwich are alfalfa sprouts…and be generous with them! So good! I am going to buy some of those Choice ones soon…only the price of some venti frapo-something from Starbucks, not bad! ;)

  21. I’m a tuna fan even if there’s a mercury issue. It is also available at Terry’s Selection Podium. I make my tuna filling by mixing in a little of red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, celery or capers,light mayonnaise and onions. Added with some tomatoes. If I want to indulge more, I make a Tuna Melt New Jersey style, minus the mustard and egg, add some parsley and slices of cheese. Sarap na midnight snacks while checking some progress at work! hehehe

  22. greengrapecake, you can try some of the recipes mentioned by other commenters… I like sandwiches – with mayo, as tuna and cheese melts, with tabasco and lemon juice. I also like the tuna in salads as well! Yikes, you have this at home and you don’t use it? It’s really good. Socky, I tease about the abs ads…I RECALLED the ad after all… and yes, the tuna is terrific… I did first taste it from friends who received it as a Christmas present several years ago… Thanks for the offer, and despite the fact that I LOVE the tuna, I almost always don’t accept products as a matter of policy…but thanks!

  23. Wow, sounds super delish. Might hie over to the Podium soon to get myself a can. Another tuna fan here. Whether it’s considered diet food or not, I love it and should have my tuna sandwich fix at least twice a month or so. I usually prefer local brands over the imported ones. Imported tuna tastes too mushy and bland for me. A can of hot ‘n spicy tuna and a big mound of pipin’ hot rice….. mmmm…. *going to kitchen now*

  24. wow, we consume so much tuna at home so that it’s really good to hear that there’s another kind to watch out for.

    my kids like their tuna sauteed with garlic, butter and lemon and it is really good actually.

    myself, i even venture to test the flavored ones and find that anything tuna, specially the adobo flavor, becomes very yummy when sauted in onions and olive oil. the plain one is good that way, with capers, which is also a great way to prepare ligo sardines, that adds a nice touch to all these things.

  25. i’m in Maldives and canned tuna here is packed fresh just after it is catched. . . one of the salad items here in our menu is warm tuna steak nicoise. . . seared tuna steak in a bed of french beans, ratte potato, tomato, kalamata olives, onion and with lemon viniagrette and lemon confit. . . my favorite, simple and also a complete meal. . .

  26. Love my century tuna sangers using toasted foccacia bread,a squeeze of lemon juice,thinly sliced onions,freshly ground salt and pepper,drizzle of tabasco and voila!! a perfect meal served with side salad.

  27. my housemates and i survived on century tuna during college. we cooked it with everything…mushrooms, corn, peas, etc. someone even came up with a recipe that involved chippy…

  28. I went to podium yesterday and got a couple of cans. For those interested, it’s P145 a can. The cans are not openly displayed, I had to ask a store clerk if they had any in stock. Thanks for the tip market

  29. I first thought that was way too expensive for canned tuna, but Joey put it in perspective. At least tuna’s better for me than a frappucino or a slice of cheesecake, which can cost that much too. Mercury poisoning *is* a real problem, though. Isn’t it so frustrating that we choose to eat tuna because we want to be healthier, but then, in fact, cause ourselves more harm? Sigh…

    When I was young, my tita taught our cook to prepare tuna a particular way, and since then I’ve preferred it to the usual way it’s served. Drain the tuna of its oil, then saute till dry and toasted. It should look something like adobo flakes. Drizzled with calamansi juice and served with a heaping mound of garlic rice, it’s really delicious, especially the Hot & Spicy flavor!

  30. Waaaa! If it is so hard to get in Manila, it only means that we will never never get it here in Bacolod. :(

    I’m a sucker for tuna (and always Century Tuna, in vegetable oil or in brine).

  31. i don’t really like tuna but I might change my mind about it if I get to try some really good stuff. I’d like to get my hands on some CENTURY TUNA CHOICE.. i don’t understand why century tuna isn’t putting it out in the market? can we find it only in Terry’s? and i wonder if there’s a regular supply in that establishment?

  32. i love ortiz tuna, na-phase out ang ibang tuna sa pantry namin ng maka-try ako ng ortiz, iba talga eh, it’s pricey even here pero no comparison talaga sa mga cheaper tuna eh…….

  33. A friend of mine served us that particular century tuna in a pasta dish. She had several cans in stock as the owners are a family friend (if not an in-law – can’t remember). At the time, it wasn’t available in the market. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the taste of it. Oh well,… I like thinly sliced apples in my tuna sandwich.

  34. I notice that there is a 21st Centurt Tuna. I live here in the U.S and wanted to buy Century Tuna online at a Filipino Store. But I notice that they have a product named 21 st Century Tuna. And that is giving me doubts now. I love that product for I was eating it since I was little.

  35. MM,sinumbong na kita kay Mr. Po (owner of Century Canning Corp.)..hehe! sinabi ko sa mga staff nya na bisitahin nila ang para naman bigyan ka ng discount pagbili mo ulit ng kanilang produkto.

  36. MM, do you know if Century premium tuna is available at meto Ayala market in Cebu or any other markets in Cebu? I agree with others that any citrus juice added can cut the fishy smell in tuna salad.

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