Tuna Chowder!

Tuna Chowder!

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful opportunity to purchase some tuna from Island Trollers. My husband and I stopped at Williams-Sonoma, and I noticed a beautiful can of tuna. I loved the fact that the label talked about how the tuna is troll caught one at a time (so sustainable!). It’s part of the Wild Pacific Albacore Campaign, an initiative of theWestern Fishboat Owners Association, and certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). I was really interested in the tuna and how sustainable it is, when my husband pointed out that the tuna is from Whidbey Island. Ok, now we had to buy a can of it! I love Whidbey Island (as many of you know)!

You could just open one of their cans of tuna and eat it plain, straight out of the can and you'd be a happy camper!

You could just open one of their cans of tuna and eat it plain, straight out of the can and you’d be a happy camper!

They had two flavors of tuna in the store: Albacore with Jalapeno and the Alder Smoked Albacore. We decided to get the Alder Smoked one. As we were checking out, the gentleman helping us told us about how the jalapeno was the best tuna he had ever had. He went on about the to-die-for sandwich he had that was made with this jalapeno tuna. I think he may have started drooling while he was telling us about it. He was so convincing that we decided to get one can of each flavor.

We opened the jalapeno tuna first. I expected it to look like good quality tuna, but I’m not sure I knew just how amazing it would look. The first thing I noticed was the little bits of jalapeno on the top. Fresh jalapeno chunks. Not just jalapeno flavor! (Sorry I don’t have a picture of the jalapeno to share with you yet, but I’ll have one soon.) The tuna itself looks like they took a large piece of fresh tuna and put it in the can. Well, it turns out that the tuna looks so amazing because it’s “raw packed and cooked only once. This is sushi grade albacore in a can, the finest you will find anywhere in the world!”

And, it smells amazing! Like the sea. Like fresh fish. Like, well, tuna! And, the flavor? I’m sure you guessed by now that it was the best tuna I’ve ever had. It’s fresh, juicy, and full of flavor. I think I’m a lifelong convert. And I’ll only be able to eat this Island Trollers tuna from now on – no more grocery-store tuna for me. (If that makes me a tuna snob, I’m ok with that.) Seriously, do yourself a favor and get some of this tuna. They sell it on their website and in Williams-Sonoma’s stores. I’m checking with the company to see where else you can pick up their tuna.
comparing tunas

An open can of Island Trollers Albacore on the left, and a can of grocery store tuna on the right. You can see the difference right away.

An open can of Island Trollers Albacore on the left, and a can of grocery store tuna on the right. You can see the difference right away.

After eating the two cans of Island Trollers Albacore, I did a little looking at their website and saw that they had several delicious sounding flavors like Albacore with Habanero, Albacore with Garlic, and Albacore with Capers. All these flavors are really inspiring to me! Well, for that matter, the plain tuna was also really inspiring because of how delicious it is. So, to make a long story short, I’m now working with Island Trollers to come up with some recipes to showcase their tasty tuna.

All the different flavors of tuna that Island Trollers makes. I can't wait to try them all!

All the different flavors of tuna that Island Trollers makes. I can’t wait to try them all!

All the different flavors of tuna that Island Trollers makes. I can’t wait to try them all!

I have so many ideas! Here are some that I want to try: maybe tuna with habanero served as a taco with goat cheese and fresh pico de gallo. Or, maybe the Alder Smoked Tuna served as a tuna noodle casserole with smoked fresh mozzarella cheese. Or, maybe Greek style with the Caper Albacore, cucumbers, and Tatziki sauce. We’ll see what special tuna recipes come next. But, be sure that you’ll see several ideas.

My first recipe for Island Trollers is Tuna Chowder. Fresh, tasty, not too heavy but still thick and rich with lots of flavor.  I love clam chowder, but my husband isn’t fond of clams (too chewy and tough). So, this makes us both happy. In fact, it made all my tasters really happy. Definitely a chowder you could serve to company! Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you either, the chowder comes together pretty easily.

Thanks, Island Trollers, for this opportunity to work with you! I love what you do!
tuna Chowder

 Tuna Chowder garnished with celery leaves, fresh pepper, and oyster crackers


Tuna Chowder garnished with celery leaves, fresh pepper, and oyster crackers

Island Trollers Tuna Chowder
Serves 4

tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large shallot, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, finely diced
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
¼ cup good dry white wine
½ pound fingerling potatoes*, cut in 1/4 –inch thick slices
1 ½ cups half-and-half
1 can original Island Trollers Albacore Tuna, undrained
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon black pepper
fresh chives, chopped
freshly ground pepper
celery leaves
oyster crackers

Add the oil to a large stockpot and heat over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot and begins to shimmer, add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and beginning to brown, about 20 minutes. Add the shallot and the garlic, and continue to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the flour and salt, and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 2-3 minutes.

Whisk in the broth, and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The liquid should be the consistency of heavy cream. Add the bay leaf, fresh thyme, and wine. Add the potatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.

If you like your chowder really thick, transfer ½ cup of the chowder to a blender, and process until smooth. Return to the pan. If you like your chowder a little less thick, skip this blender step, and continue on with the recipe.

Stir in the half-and-half, tuna with all its juices, celery, and black pepper. Bring the chowder back up to heat gently over medium-low. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as desired.

Remove bay leaf, and ladle into warmed soup bowls. Garnish with chives, freshly ground pepper, celery leaves, and oyster crackers. Enjoy immediately.
*Cook’s Notes: Fingerling potatoes can be found in well-stocked grocery stores. They work really well in this chowder because of their small size. If you can’t find fingerling potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes may be used. Cut them into uniform dice, about ¼ to ½-inch in size.