If you read our interview with Tuccio Testa, you already know that any cut of their top notch Sicilian bluefin tuna is going to be delicious. Each cut has something different to offer. So, what should you choose between Testa Conserve’s bluefin tuna fillets, ventresca, and buzzonaglia?
Let’s start with the fish itself. Mediterranean bluefin tuna like the ones Testa Conserve catches and jars are one of the most prized fish in the world. Mediterranean tuna can weigh up to 650kg (1400 lbs) and swim up to 100km/hr (62 mph). That’s one huge fish with a lot of variation within its body.
Check out this diagram from Testa Conserve “Tonno Rosso del Tirreno”, or “Bluefin Tuna of the Tyrrhenian” (remember, the Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean off the western coast of Italy). Bluefin tuna fillets come from the upper back (red), ventresca comes from the belly (yellow), and buzzonaglia is the meat attached to the bone and trimmings left behind (turquoise).
These are the muscles working hard to swim across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean to breed. The filetti or tranci are the most common form of high quality canned tuna. They’re chunky and firm, but never chalky. Each fillet is steamed and sliced by hand, resulting in a lean yet very rich in flavor conserva. Expect a clean, delicate tuna that will elevate your green salad with olives and mozzarella, could be mixed into a hearty farro bowl with seasonal vegetables, or tucked into a sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes drizzled in more Sicilian olive oil.
Also known as Japanese “Toro”, this is the most prized cut of the entire fish. The rich, fatty marbling of the bluefin’s underbelly creates a creamy mouthfeel that’s best appreciated in very simple preparations. Basically, you take it out of the jar, place on a nice dish, and dive right in. It’s as luxurious as it can get, each bite delivering a combination of velvety texture and denser bits, depending on the cuts that are made by hand. The fat retains the most complex aromas, never overpowering but with the longest lasting finish. Eat it with a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of finishing salt flakes, or on a toasted slice of bread for an appetizer.
Buzzonaglia di tonno is made with the most humble and yet most flavorful bits of bluefin tuna. To quote our friend and food expert Viola Buitoni, “Also known as busonaglia or busonaccia, it is made with the flesh stuck to the central spine and the bits leftover after all the prime cuts have been pared. Originally a nutritious provision for those who couldn’t afford to waste anything, this purple brown mix is best used for cooking and delivers intense taste sensations.” Try it mixed with tomato sauce for a Sicilian pasta al tonno, the most satisfying tuna and bean salad you have ever tried, or experiment and create a polpette di buzzonaglia masterpiece.