Island Entrepreneurs

A can of tuna — what could be more common and taken for granted? But something’s up in the tuna aisle, viagra generic try where variations on this old theme are proliferating.

First there were “tuna kits” — teeny cans of prepared tuna salad, complete with crackers. Then there was tuna in shelf-stable, vacuum-packed pouches instead of cans. Then vacuum-packed, precooked tuna steaks appeared (to be followed, this month by Bumble Bee brand’s new Prime Fillet — precooked whole chicken breasts in vacuum packaging).

Now, seasoned tunas are the latest thing — and one brand of these is making its debut in Hawai’i, the brainchild of two Island women.

Tuna with shoyu; tuna with lemongrass, lime and ginger; and tuna in spicy chili oil are the first three products to be released by Kitty Sullivan Wo and Louvette Fowler under their new Catch & Harvest brand. With Wo’s connection to Foodland stores — she’s the daughter of founder Maurice Sullivan and sister of Foodland president Jenai Wall — the products are exclusive to that chain for now. The tunas were introduced at a special price of 2 cans for $3, and sampling has been taking place in O’ahu Foodland stores.

Though the products will be introduced elsewhere after an initial test marketing here, the flavors were specifically developed to appeal to Hawai’i palates, Wo said. She said that to keep costs down, some manufacturers can poorer grades of tuna, but their aim is to produce a high-quality product with no chemical additives — just real food.

Our criteria for all our products is going to be that it’s something different, something high- quality, something we would want to eat and serve to our families, and something we can bring in at a reasonable cost,” said Wo as she watched Foodland corporate chef Keoni Chang whip up a spicy pate he invented using the tuna in chili oil.

The flavored-tuna idea came to the two women — old friends — as they were mulling over ideas for starting a business together. Wo lives here and Fowler in San Diego, so they wanted an idea that could be marketed in the Islands and on the Mainland. Fowler’s husband manages a tuna-canning operation in Asia, and she noticed that flavored tunas are common in Asia. At that time, except for imported Italian tuna in tomato sauce, flavored tunas were little known in the U.S.

BIG-BRAND COMPETITION

However, the big fishes of the tuna world — Starkist and Bumble Bee among them — had the same idea. Late last year, Bumble Bee began test-marketing a Tuna Sensations line in three seasonings: spicy Thai chili, sundried tomato & basil, and lemon & pepper. They’re packaged in 5-ounce portions in easy-open foil-top cans (about $2.50) and are being sold as healthful, low-calorie snack or lunch food. Starkist has its pouch-packed Tuna Creations in flavors such as lemon-pepper, teriyaki and hickory-smoked in both fillets (about $4) and flaked tuna (about $2.75).

In a side-by-side tasting at The Advertiser, the Catch & Harvest tunas fared well against the national brands, with generally truer and more assertive flavors; the lemongrass, lime and ginger flavor was praised as “light and crisp.” Starkist’s line was less impressive, the flavors so light as to be almost undetectable, except for the lemon & pepper, which reminded one taster of soap. Starkist’s teriyaki tuna fillet was unappetizing both in color (a drab taupe) and texture (dry and hard), but several tasters liked the smoked tuna, suggesting it would be good with cheese and crackers. Bumble Bee’s spicy Thai chili yielded first sweetness and then mild spice, with quite a bit less heat than the Catch & Harvest spicy chili oil flavor.

At Foodland, 90-year-old Hinae Okinaka was the very first customer to taste the chili-spiked tuna, and she liked it. “I’d buy this,” she said. “Tastes good. Not too hot.”

Seasoned tunas are being touted as something you can eat as is or use as an ingredient. For a launch party for Bumble Bee’s Sensations line, food consultant Joie Warner created a Southeast Asian-style spring roll with the lemon and pepper flavor, a little fish sauce, sugar and lime juice, and lots of fresh vegetables and herbs. (See the recipe at www.bumblebee.com.)

Here are a couple of chef Chang’s recipes using Catch & Harvest seasoned tunas.

TUNA PATE WITH CHILI, CILANTRO AND SCALLIONS

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese (regular or low-fat), softened
  • 2 (6-ounce) cans Catch & Harvest tuna with chili in oil
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (Chinese parsley)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Garnish: Cilantro, chili flakes or cracked black pepper, sea salt and sesame oil
  • In a bowl, allow the cream cheese to soften at room temperature. Drain and reserve most of the oil from the tuna with chili in oil; remove the whole chilies from the can (these can be used for garnish or discarded). Place the tuna in the bowl with the cream cheese; add remaining ingredients, and mix ingredients into a slightly chunky paste. Arrange in serving dish or bowl.

    Garnish with fresh Chinese parsley leaves, a pinch of chili flakes or cracked pepper, a sprinkle of sea salt and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve with pita wedges, crackers or bread slices.

  • Per serving: (not including pita, crackers or bread): 230 calories, 14 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 450 mg sodium, 2 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 28 g protein
  • SALAD OF TUNA WITH LEMONGRASS, LIME AND GINGER

  • 1 (6-ounce) can Catch & Harvest tuna with lemongrass, lime and ginger (drained)
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 3 cups shelled edamame, blanched and cooled
  • 1 cup aburage, cup into 1/2-inch strips
  • 4 leaves basil or mint, cut into chiffonade
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch pepper
  • In a bowl, combine tuna, tomatoes, edamame, aburage, and basil or mint. In a cup measure, whisk together lime juice and olive oil, and flavor with garlic, salt and pepper. Dress salad; taste and adjust seasonings.

    Makes 4 servings.

  • Per serving: (including 1/8 teaspoon salt pinch): 670 calories, 50 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 15 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 21 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 40 g protein
  • Reach Wanda A. Adams at wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.

    http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Jan/31/il/FP701310355.html

    BACK

    Share