I'd like to take a moment to sing the praises for a tuna salad sandwich on white bread. I know the canned tuna drill, I got said sandwich, tuna noodle casserole and tuna salad under wraps, and I know you can feed the cat in a pinch too. I thought tuna came in the canned variety and the fishing practices killed smart, sociable dolphins in the process. Growing up in the mid-west, land locked, I never fathomed the concept of an alive, voracious tuna. Not a chance.
TUNA SALAD SANDWICH
- 1 can (8 oz.) tuna in water
- 1/2 cup (two stalks) finely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup (1 small) yellow onion
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper to taste
Alternate recipes include the substitution or addition of, but not limited to; yellow mustard, radish, red onion, parsley, cilantro, Tabasco sauce, peppers etc.
Mix well and serve on bread.
Cover with cheese and bake until toasted for the popular Tuna Melt.
Add cooled noodles to mixture to create a lite and cool summer salad, but use mustard as a substitute for Mayo if it's an outdoor activity, because Mayo and miracle whip contain egg products which go rancid in the heat. No one likes botulism.
TUNA NOODLE CASSEROLE
- 1 can (15 oz.) Cream of Mushroom soup.
- 1 can (8 oz.) tuna in water.
- 8 oz. Frozen green sweet peas.
- 12 oz. Dry wide egg noodles.
- Salt and pepper to taste
Add ten cups of water to a two-quart pan. Heat on high, covered, until water boils. In separate, one quart saucepan, heat can of soup. Drain tuna, squeezing excess water with partially open can top. Add tuna to soup. Let stand on low-med heat until it begins to slightly bubble. Add noodles to boiling water and stir occasionally. Add pepper and frozen peas to soup mixture and raise heat. In accordance to package directions on noodles, subtract one minute and use this as a gauge to monitor constantly (approx. 7-8 minutes or when noodles are soft). When directed minutes have expired, your noodles should be drained through a sieve immediately. Use caution, boiling water is hot. Shake the sieve for fifteen seconds and add to soup mixture. Stir and let cool on low heat for an additional five minutes. Season with salt and butter and serve. For creamed tuna, in lieu of noodles, serve mixture over two slices of toasted white bread.
I ate this plenty in the era of Tupperware when inflation was high and you had to go to the phone company to get a new phone. The folks didn't have much jing so we made do like every body would. I was a picky eater as a kid and spoiled rotten. My mom used to pick out the little square bits of mushroom from the soup. My favorite was cream tuna over toast.
Back then, you could spray any part of life out of an Aerosol can and it all smelled like flower except the Raid. Yeah, we had roaches, little black suckers that swarmed onto the cat food late at night. Sunburns were the norm and kids could roam the streets freely courageous. We had to worry about stranger danger and old freaks in trench coats and clowns with candy, but it was pretty safe. Little did we know that the parks we played in were toxic landfills and the preservatives we ate in processed food would end our lives just early enough to prevent us from speaking our minds. The government has done it to us too, money money money they made. Money at the expense of our environment and future. Trees logged, rivers dammed, nuclear weapons detonated underground, the radiation lingering in the atmosphere. These are the variables of American progress. While the statistics roll in we can't believe, don't want to believe. Media influence in what we eat and think and believe is a sic hiccup of non-normative culture. The brains in America have procrastinated into an era of lazy apathy and an existence of consumption. Goods and services aren't enuf. We want what we want and we want it now, pronto, so we can stick it in our home with all our other stuff and show it to our friends and neighbors to make them appreciate the envy for such fantastic progress. Dinner parties are a fun social occasion to share these things with good food out of Good Housekeeping and fine wine suggested by Wine Spectator.
My parties aren't so much panache froufrou. I have the food and the wine, but most people look at what I have and wonder in my eccentric lacking. I give my friends all I have. I was raised to over tip breakfast waitresses and to wave at crossing guards. I still trust police, only because I am a white male with no criminal background. My perspective is a hazy conglomerate of socialist idealism with peace love hippie economics. I want folks to have anything they want and only take what they need.
My pals love it when I buy oysters and serve 'em up with some horseradish and lemon. Last time I was at the fish store I bought a pound of sashimi grade A-1 Ahi tuna. I take recipes from restaurants and whip it up on imagination. I was out with some friends a year before and tried a bite at the table. Delicious.
AHI TUNA TARTARE
- 8 oz. Sashimi grade Ahi Tuna. (other sashimi grade type tuna can be used as a substitute, but don't buy the yellowfin that has been sitting in your grocer's freezer).
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil. This oil is a powerful seasoning and isn't considered cooking oil, you'll usually find it in the Asian section of your grocery store. It is expensive but will last if refrigerated, for a year and only a few drops are needed to season some rice.
- 2 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
- 1 ripe avocado. I often see this called for in a recipe but rarely encounter an explanation about how to determine a 'ripe' avocado. Avocados can be intimidating to the novice cook, but simply press the tip of your nose with a finger, the skin of the avocado should provide similar give. If you can only find hard avocados, a trick to enhance ripening is to place it into closed brown paper bag for a day or two.
- squeeze of lime juice
- gari (pickled ginger)
- toasted sesame seeds black or white or both. Approx two heaping tablespoons.
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions or cilantro. Mixture may be used.
- wasabi powder (optional).
Cut avocado around the circumference of the pit lengthwise. A small stem should easily wiggle out from the top of the fruit. Make sure the fruit is soft, but resists to pressure. Remember the tip of the nose test. If it is too soft, it may be runny or rotten, if too firm the flesh is yellow/white and very fibrous and bitter. When cut is complete, gently twist the two halves, they should separate easily and the pit should remain in one side. Use a knife to secure the pit by using a swift karate chop motion. The knife should stick into the pit, just twist and the pit should easily dislodge from the flesh. Break up the flesh with a spoon and scoop it out of the skin into a bowl. Mash the flesh firmly with a fork, adding a squeeze of lime juice to prevent discoloration, add some wasabi powder (if desired) and stir well. Set aside.
On a clean cutting board, take a sharp knife and dice the tuna steak into 1/2 inch cubes, put into bowl. Add sesame oil, soy sauce and a slight squeeze of lime. The acid of the lime will slightly 'cook' the meat, so adding it just before serving can alter the taste and presentation of the dish. Heat a dry saucepan and add sesame seeds. Toast the seeds until you begin to hear a few POP. Shake the pan vigorously while cooking, as the seeds will stick together. Fifteen to thirty seconds should do it, immediately add to tuna mix. Stir well. Rest for fifteen minutes.
Spoon avocado mix onto the center of a plate, think of Devil's tower. If it isn't malleable, add a pinch of corn starch and stir. The paste should stick to the spoon. Arrange tuna mixture around the avocado like a target. Garnish with gari and the cilantro and/or scallions. For an extra effect, place whole cilantro stalks or a whole scallion in the avocado like trees.
Giving luxury at the cost of thirty bucks a pound is a bargain, unless you look at the resources dwindled in the process. My tuna tartare sponsored the economy of the monger and the fisherman and fed my friends delicious food. Sure. Culinary delight isn't such a sin because it's substance. We eat it with chopsticks. It is good. We need food to live and good food, well, that's why I learned how to cook. I was tired of paying too much money for gut rot. I didn't even like to cook at first, I was just too poor and was tired of eating shit. I like cooking now, because I like to eat. Then I got out of hand and became a food snob. Problem was I am poor.
I'll eat beans and rice for a week if I can get my hands on some primo olives. Or I'll stock up on veggies and whatever chicken is on sale for a spell if I can splurge for some thai curry. Man, I'll do almost anything to get the goods I want even if I can only get it once. I'm just asking for a second of luxurious, free spirited, no guilt, prosperous, full filled, true, loving existence without exhausting the inherent limited supply of happiness hinging on this world.
Ask and thee shall receive. For the man that waits to end, finishes first.