Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Product Review: Green tunas

The Spanish word tuna can be a little confusing. Your first inclination would probably be to think that a tuna is a canned fish that has a terrible taste and smell [1], and contributes significantly to your mercury intake. But that would be wrong. The Spanish word for that fish is atún. A tuna is fruit of the prickly pear (genus Opuntia).[2] My first encounter with tunas was in Matehuala, San Luís Potosí, México [3], where I served as an LDS missionary.[4] The paddles of Opuntia species are also regularly eaten in México, where they are called nopales.

To eat a tuna, first remove all the glochids.[5] Now cut off both ends and make a slit in the peel down one side. The rind itself is only loosely attached, so at this point you can easily peel it off. The flesh inside surrounds a mass of seeds, each about the size of a pea.

My verdict: Normally tunas are really good. But I managed to pick out some unripe ones, so they were rather bland. The seeds are edible, but swallowing them was almost triggering my gag reflex, so I spat them out. They are just the right size to get stuck in your molars, so you have to be careful when chewing. I would recommend you give these a try, but be sure they're ripe.[6]


[1] Since I haven't had much sushi, I'll concede that it might taste okay prepared that way.

[2] Sometimes they're called prickly pear figs.

[3] You can read more at my review of Martinelli's Prickly Passion Lemonade, here.

[4] For those who are unsure why Latter-day Saints (Mormons) go on missions, I recommend you visit here and here, where you can learn more about LDS beliefs concerning sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you have more questions, ask and maybe I'll do a full post on the topic.

[5] For more details on this procedure (as well as a description of what glochids are), see my review of xoconostle, here.

[6] I haven't been able to find anything on the internet about how to pick out a ripe tuna of the green variety, but I suspect that they should have a light green or even yellow color to them, not a rich green like the ones I bought.

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