Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dong Won Hot Tuna


My husband and I made a repeat visit to the "Korea town" area of Shinjuku in Tokyo last week and dropped in on a supermarket this time. My husband picked up several snacks, and I couldn't resist this tuna because of the name. I'm sure that it's all pretty tame stuff in Korean, perhaps the equivalent of "Trader Joe" there. To me though, I had to titter at the connotations. Besides, even without the awesome name, I would have considered sampling this since I do like tuna and spicy food. 

Based on the picture on the can, I expected this to be bits of tuna with little hot peppers sprinkled among it. My first surprise was that when I popped the seal and tried to "drain" the tuna, a red fluid ran out. After removing the top, I caught a whiff of that "dog food" type of smell that you sometimes get from canned meat products, even when they are for human consumption.


Looking inside, I could see something that resembled hash more than canned tuna. At this point, I was experiencing some pretty serious buyer's remorse. I wasn't sure it looked like something I'd want to put in my mouth, but I'd already forked over my 240 yen ($2.82) so I decided that I was going to, at the very least, get a review out of it.

It really doesn't look much better in a sandwich, except to the extent that you can see less of it this way.

Tentatively, I dipped my fork into it and speared what looked to be a tiny cube of white potato and gave it a sample. It tasted slightly spicy and modestly flavored with tuna. Actually, it tastes pretty good. Heartened by the sampling, I pondered exactly how I was going to eat it now that it wasn't what I thought it was. I was thinking I'd make some sort of spicy tuna salad by mixing it with mayo, but this isn't that sort of thing. There is a lot of sauce in it so it's not like dry, flaked fish. In fact, this appears to be a salad that is pre-made and canned so I just slathered half of it on a cheese croissant roll I had in the freezer and chowed down.

The tuna flavor is very present, but tamed by the spicy flavors of the red chili sauce and diluted by what look like carrot, onion and potato pieces. You can't really taste the vegetables though because they are very tender and well-cooked as well as well-marinated in the chili sauce. The sauce is only mildly hot and spicy, and slightly sweet. Keep in mind that there was no Japanese translation over the ingredients and I can't read Korean at all so I can't determine anything about the ingredients. That's actually a little refreshing for me since I can just rely on my senses rather than having to do research.

This was surprisingly good right out of the can and didn't betray much of the "canned food" taste that some of these sorts of foods have. I'm guessing that has to do with the tuna and chili sauce having strong flavor profiles. At 190 calories for the whole can (and one can offering two servings for the likes of me), this was a surprisingly tasty and low calorie lunch option. The only problems with it are that it's slightly expensive and  that I can only buy it at Korean supermarkets and they aren't exactly frequently dotting the landscape. That being said, I'd definitely pick up a can if I was in the area. It's a nice novel taste experience and a tasty quick meal.

12 comments:

Blue Shoe said...

That looks pretty good! Will keep an eye out for something like that, though I don't know of any Korea markets around here.

Orchid64 said...

Delicious and, hopefully, nutritious. ;-)

Since you're off sugar these days, this would actually work for you!

Paul said...

Looks good to me :D

BradleyNASH said...

maybe I'm just jaded... but wow... that really doesn't look inviting at all. Crazy how things like this can actually taste good :)

Burp and Slurp~! said...

Yay Korean food!! We sometimes use this in kimchi jiggae (stew) or mix with rice, nori, and fried egg. :-)

Orchid64 said...

Thanks to all for the comments!

BurpandSlurp: I'm finding I like most of the Korean food I've tried, and I hope to incorporate more of it into reviews in the future!

hisjournal said...

I don't know if you saw these during your shopping, but there are quite a few other kinds of Korean tuna: tuna with vegetables, "mild tuna" (just the lighter cuts of tuna, I guess--it tastes basically like Starkist), special kimchi jjigae tuna, and a couple more I've forgotten. Personally I don't like anything except regular canned tuna in a salad, but most native Koreans seem to love the different incarnations.

jonvic1973 said...

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geram said...

delicious!!

Salina said...

that is so creative! Love it... looks gorgeous and what a wonderful Pictures... Solaray

Jisoo said...

The tuna cans are available at Yamaya , which carrys mainly imported groceries. I think you can find other kinds of flavors all year round at a cheaper price.(^^)

Orchid64 said...

Thanks, Jisoo! There is a Yamaya near my husband's office so we'll investigate it. Unfortunately, Yamaya's stock is very inconsistent so it may be only sporadically available. Still, I'd love it if they had some!