Bacon Ranch Tuna. This is it. Flavor 16 of 16. It ends with this. You know, it was about 14 days ago I was so enjoying reviewing the ranch flavor. Someone in my Facebook comments dropped the bombshell that there was in fact also a bacon ranch flavor. To which I said rather innocently, “Yeah, it’s probably just ranch flavor with liquid smoke." So now here it sits, StarKist Tuna Creations Bacon Ranch. I flip over the package and… It’s an exact duplicate of the ranch flavor ingredients with one notable addition: Liquid smoke. Perfect. It’ll be like having a nice big salad (as you do), at a bonfire (obviously), on the beach (active lifestyle!)… In hell.
This is, out of the 16 flavors, the second hardest to find. I’m going to presume they are shooting for Thai curry rather than Indian curry based on the inclusion of coconut. I’m actually a little surprised they skipped over Indian food flavors, as I could see a vindaloo working, or even a tikka considering how much tomato flavor StarKist seems to like to slam into half of these flavors. Instead, we get two different Thai flavors out of 16. Maybe the flavor masters in their oceanic mansions ran out of ideas. This will almost certainly be either great or horrid, there is very little room for mediocrity in Thai curry.
Hickory smoked has a lot going for it in principle. You could likely stick an old wig in a smoker and I’d eat it. Growing up I had nearly endless access to fresh salmon and halibut and we had a large smoker going in our backyard for most of the salmon season. Spend some time on an island in Alaska, and you start getting creative with how to store fish. Pork or chicken was hard to find and expensive when you did find it (not a ton of pig farms in Alaska) so we lived on the tasty fruits of the ocean. Mmm. Ocean fruit.
Of all 16 flavors currently available, this is one of only a small handful that just naturally sounds like it would work with tuna. It’s also one of, if not the most difficult to find. So I did what any sane person would do and ordered a full case of it. No, I’ve never tasted it but I now have 20+ little pouches.
StarKist really seems to think people want their tuna to have hot sauce on it but are totally incapable of applying the sauce to the fish themselves. I guess the extra step is just too taxing for those of us with an active fish-slurping lifestyle. I’m really not sure why anyone would slather Buffalo sauce on tuna rather than chicken but that’s just the post-chicken world we live in. Take note that this is not an endorsed brand name Buffalo sauce, not a Frank’s nor a Sweet Baby Rays. Once again giving the oceanic overlords at StarKist a terrifying amount of flavor power. This is simply “Hot Buffalo Style” tuna. I like Buffalo sauce under normal circumstances (like when it’s not on fish) but then again, l also love Tapatio and StarKist fucked that idea right out of my head a few days ago.
I’m either a sucker for fish-themed punishment or I just wanted to get honey barbecue out of the way, so I’ve decided to sample the two highest in sugar of the “Tuna Creations” back to back. There are a number of these flavors that make perfect sense on another type of protein and almost zero sense on tuna. Honey barbecue wouldn’t have been my first thought when I sat down with the alchemists in the StarKist Aquatic Empire.
Frankly, "Sweet and Spicy" sets itself kind of a low bar don’t you think? It just has to be both sweet and spicy. Although that ignores the elephant in the room. Neither of those things is a flavor. Sweet is a taste, not a flavor. Spicy comes from a molecule that binds to tongue receptors. StarKist has decided to vacillate between hyper-specific naming and needlessly cryptic at will. What flavor is this? Mystery Flavor. This tuna packet apparently contains no flavors. It contains sensations. Next time someone asks me what kind of music I make I’ll simply say, “The audible kind.” However, people have specifically recommended this ahem… “flavor” so this is my destiny I guess, because that’s how destiny works. I just basically do whatever anyone on the Internet says I should do.
Jalapeño. Old nemesis. Jalapeños are one of the very few food intolerances I have. Habaneros, serranos, poblanos… all totally fine but jalapeños for some reason are not. I don’t know why, but what I do know is that although they enter my body in the typical manner, they inevitably exit my body with the fury of an army of screeching, armor-clad demons on horseback. Demonic armies or not, I’m a stubborn fucker. I said I was going to try all of these and that twisted path has led me here to this forsaken place. I’ve probably made worse decisions.
Tuna salad is another of those flavors pretty open to interpretation. I once had a relationship nearly end over tuna salad and I didn’t even start that disagreement, some people just take it pretty fucking seriously. StarKist apparently does. It’s “perfect for today's active lifestyle” so, the next time you go out jogging, go ahead and grab a pouch of room temperature tuna salad to squeeze down your throat while you run. Take one to the gym, impress your friends. Hell, pass that little packet around. Everyone will want some. I know I do.
Ah, Sriracha. Sauce number 2 of the 4 sauces always in my fridge. The sauce so good it spawned a documentary. It’s a cool story actually. I’ve, of course, committed the whole thing to memory. Let’s see if StarKist can ruin that pleasant memory for me, dashing it to bits against the hull of a massive barnacle-laden fishing vessel until it’s just another ruin at the bottom of the unforgiving, briny deep.