Joe the Trader

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

As a result, Joe's standout attributes can make roaming its island-themed store aisles seem more like a form of entertainment than a dreaded but necessary shopping chore. Lord knows, I need and appreciate that simple illusion!

One product I recently discovered on a fishing expedition through Joe's streams of interesting comestibles was its Marinated Ahi Tuna Steaks.

Now normally, pre-frozen and pre-seasoned industrial-packaged fish would not be at all high on my grocery list. But when I gazed at its inviting lineup of all-natural ingredients (ahi tuna, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, salt, red chili flakes, black pepper -- that's it) along with the nutritional numbers (a 4.5-ounce serving has only 150 calories, 180 mg of sodium and five grams of fat), the cooking time (12 unobtrusive minutes) and price ($5.50 per pound) -- well, how could I in any good conscience possibly resist? And I was glad I didn't, because this inexpensive heart-smart protein is a real "convenience food" winner.

While the fish (you'll get two to three good-sized steaks per under-$6 package) comes completely seasoned by the simple, if highly effective, marinade, its fine tuna flavor always comes through. In fact, it really is kind of hard to believe how good these cheapies taste, especially considering their refreshingly low amount of sodium.

Primarily, you get a burst of bright lemon juice with a perfect partnering of garlic. Secondarily, there's just the right background hint of cilantro and pepperiness to help seal the deal.

A few notes on cooking it. I've achieved excellent results with higher heat and less cooking time than the package recommends (I altered each by about a third).

What's more, there's so much marinade that if you bake the steaks or cook them on the range (a ridged grill pan works great) so the marinade also gets equally heated, you'll have a bunch of leftover olive-oil-based "sauce" that works wonderfully to enhance side dishes -- I like roasted root veggies and/or smashed potatoes.

We Tried It! Spot a new supermarket specialty you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail