Tuna: Bonito del Norte and Rabil
Spanish Tapas Ingredients
The tender and tasty meat of tuna fish is very popular in tapas bars throughout Spain. Three species of canned tuna are very common in Spanish supermarkets: the "Bonito del Norte" or "Albacore Tuna" (also named "Atun Blanco"), the "Rabil" or "Yellowfin Tuna" (also named "Atun Claro"), and the regular "Atun".
Canned Yellowfin Tuna - Atun Claro
Bonito del Norte - Atun Blanco (Albacore)
Of the three species of tuna mentioned above, the Bonito del Norte (Thunnus Alalunga) is the smallest fish, but it represents the highest quality, with firm and very tasty meat.
The Bonito del Norte is what we know as the Albacore Tuna. Since its meat is very white, the Bonito del Norte is also named "Atun Blanco", meaning white tuna. In Spanish supermarkets you will find canned Albacore Tuna in a wide variety of brands, both in a regular quality and in the superior "Ventresca" quality.
Rabil - Atun Claro (Yellowfin)
The Rabil or Atun Claro (Thunnus Albacares) is what we know as the Yellowfin Tuna. It is a migratory species caught mainly in tropical waters. The meat is is light shade of pink, more off-white, hence the name Atun Claro.
In the wordlwide canning industry the Yellowfin is used the most of all species of tuna. In Spanish supermarkets you will find canned Yellowfin Tuna in a wide variety of brands, both in a regular quality and in the superior "Ventresca" quality.
Canned Atun Claro - Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus Albacares)
Other Species of Tuna...
There are about 50 species of Tuna worldwide, and just about any of them could end up in a can sold by a Spanish supermarket or by a store near you.
For example the Bluefin Tuna, named "Atun Rojo" or "Atun Cimarron" in Spanish. Or the Skipjack, named "Bonito de Altura", "Atun Listado", or just "Listado" in Spanish.
In Spain, over time people have developed a preference for the canned Atun Blanco and the Atun Claro, so it is probably safe to say that those two species of tuna with their light coloured meat are of a superior quality - at least for canning purposes.
That is not to say that any other species of tuna would not be proper to use in tapas recipes. To the contrary, if you can't find canned Atun Blanco or Atun Claro in your local supermarket, just go for any other canned tuna!
Ventresca - Tenderloin of the Fish!
The Ventresca is like the lomito or tenderloin of a fish. It is the fish meat situated inside the body right behind the head, and it is the most tender, most juicy, and most tasty part of the fish.
You may want to check this out for yourself: go buy a mackerel, get yourself a sharp knife, and do the test! I found this a very satisfying experience.
Ventresca de Atun Claro - Tuna Tenderloin!
About Canned Tuna?
Tuna is a beautiful fish.
This website is about Spanish tapas and the culture that goes with it. And of course canned tuna is part thereof.
That is not to say that we don't have our own thoughts about canned tuna. That is why we wish to encourage everybody to - if possible - only buy tuna that has been caught by sustainable fishing.
Please check if the fish you are buying has an international and independent seal or ecolabel that guarantees that the fish has been caught by using well-managed fishery methods, like the label of "Friend of the Sea" or the label of the "Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)".