What's good to make with canned tuna fish?
August 23, 2005 7:20 PM   Subscribe

What's good to make with canned tuna fish? I only use it to make sandwiches and macaroni salad and there has to be something more interesting than that.
posted by smackfu to Food & Drink (46 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Okay, this is very simple, so I don't know if it counts as interesting, but I like to mix a can of tuna with some salsa, put it in a tortilla and add some cheddar- fish tacos. Yum. Tastes much more exciting than it sounds, I promise.
posted by wallaby at 7:26 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

Tuna in mac and cheese is very popular among college students. I think it sucks, but you might like it.

Canned tuna with cannelloni beans, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, and perhaps some fresh herbs or just some parsley makes a great dish which is also healthy (except for the mercury in the tuna).
posted by caddis at 7:27 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

We constantly make a pantry pasta dish adapted loosely from a long-ago recipe we found in the Washington Post -- combine in blender a couple of drained jars of roasted red peppers, about 4 tsp oregano, 4 cloves garlic, 4 anchovies, 1 tsp sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and a little of something hot (dried pepper flakes are fine.) Blend it up to a red paste. Put in 1/2 c of good olive oil. Blend it up to an orange paste. Flake in 2 cans tuna and throw in bunches of capers. This is enough sauce for 2 lb pasta or so. It takes no longer than cooking the pasta and uses only what you have around, and we never get tired of it.
posted by escabeche at 7:30 PM on August 23, 2005 [4 favorites]

OK, in case I got any credit for that last recipe, let me say on preview that I'm never averse to the old tuna + mac n cheese combo. A little cumin and you are living large bachelor style.
posted by escabeche at 7:32 PM on August 23, 2005

The red peppers and capers would go nicely with the tuna and cannelloni beans. Spice and dress up such dishes to suit your fancy. [by the way, what is happening with the mefi cookbook project?]
posted by caddis at 7:33 PM on August 23, 2005

The Mac'n'Cheese and tuna dish requires chopped fresh tomato with parmesean cheese and a little red pepper.
posted by sourwookie at 7:39 PM on August 23, 2005

Oh, I am going to ruin my dubious culinary cred and admit to loving canned tuna, Kraft mac'n'cheese, and parmesan cheese. Stir until pasty; consume. Sooooo delicious; soooo poor college student.

I grew up on that stuff. Sigh. I'll...um...go hide somewhere now.
posted by fuzzbean at 7:39 PM on August 23, 2005

Tuna's good on a baked potato, actually. I like it with corn. Cheese optional.

I was introduced to this concept in Scotland, and the Scottish are CLEARLY the masters of international cuisine.

But seriously, it's good. Sometimes known as a "Jacket Potato."
posted by selfnoise at 7:45 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

1 deep soup bowl
water to fill bowl 3/4 of the way
Pour water into pot. Heat pot.

Add two gulps of Shaoxing cooking wine
Add a good splash of soy
Add a good sprinkling of toasted sesame oil

Water should now be dark. Not opaque, dark like really strong tea.

Throw in a minced anchovy
Add two teaspoons of palm sugar (or any other kind)

When your water is boiling throw in the drained tuna

Fiddle about fetching the noodles from the fridge or the cupboard.

Throw in noodles

Chop up mushrooms, carrots, whatever you want that can handle a couple of minutes of boiling without going mushy.

Throw chopped vegies into pot

Wash and shake your bok choy/choy sum/generic dark green leafy thing

Chop leafy thing crosswise into 1cm pieces and throw in pot. Stir them through and take pot off stove and pour into bowl.

From boiling to serving is about 5 minutes, give or take a couple. You can leave the tuna cooking on its own for a couple of minutes before adding the noodles if you like.

You may also with to add some ginger. say a cubic inch sliced into planks. throw it in earlyish.

Or you can replace some of the water with fish stock if your supermarket sells it. And you can add a sprinkle of Thai fish sauce (nam ploy?) if you have that kind of thing.

If you are a little slow with the knife you may wish to pre-slice everything. In which case wait a minute or so during the appropriate step.

If you do it right you end up with a light soup that has a japanese fish soup taste thing happening.

this "recipe" grew out of my search to find an asian style stock.
posted by hifimofo at 7:48 PM on August 23, 2005

Tuna pasta bake:

Cook some pasta (macaroni or the like), make a cheese sauce. When the sauce is about ready stir in the flaked tuna. Mix the lot together in a deep dish, maybe grate a little more cheese over the top, and bung it in the oven.
...oh, and stir in some crumbled feta if you like feta.
posted by pompomtom at 7:53 PM on August 23, 2005

A trip to Jamaica cured my boredom of tuna salad. Spice it up! I usually throw in a red or yellow bell pepper plus some celery, or whatever I have lying around, but the kicker is: habanero (scotch bonnet pepper) sauce. It makes a totally different dish. I won't make tuna salad again without adding the spice.
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:55 PM on August 23, 2005

One of my favourite things to eat when I was a poor college student:

Cold cooked penne pasta
Black olives from a can
Grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
Newman's Own Garlic and Parmesan dressing
Canned tuna

Toss and serve!
posted by orangskye at 8:03 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

I make this all the time: Marcella Hazan's recipe for pasta with tuna, tomato and garlic sauce.
posted by Wet Spot at 8:04 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

ditto adding spices. now that i live in new orleans, i hardly make anything without tony chachere's creole seasoning and i think it adds a great kick to tuna
posted by radioamy at 8:05 PM on August 23, 2005

Response by poster: These are all fabulous answers and I regret not posting the question before I made dinner. So much inspiration!
posted by smackfu at 8:06 PM on August 23, 2005

Tuna rissoles are easy to make and very yummy. I mix together a 200g tin of tuna with 1/3 cup ricotta cheese, 1 egg, 2 slices of roughly chopped bread (crusts removed), and something extra to give it a bit of zing, maybe the zest of a lime and some coriander.

You need to refrigerate the patties for about 5 minutes after you shape them. Then you just shallow fry them in a bit of olive oil. Very good with a simple salad and some mayonnaise flavoured with lime juice.

This is enough to feed 2.
posted by arha at 8:08 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

one of the many "health-food" dishes eaten as a kid that i remember as being actually good was tuna salad.

diced hard-boiled egg, powdered goldenseal or brewer's yeast, a little olive oil, green grapes cut in half, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and pepper, all mixed with drained tuna.

the egg is oddly good, and cuts the fishy flavor, while the grapes add a nice sweet crunch. we usually ate it in a pita pocket with lettuce and tomato.
posted by littlegirlblue at 8:11 PM on August 23, 2005

I love tuna edamame (soybean) salad. Just mix equal volumes of tuna and shelled edamame and add mayo to taste. It's a great lunchtime snack and can stay in the fridge for up to a week.
posted by Alison at 8:16 PM on August 23, 2005

My all time favorite tuna dish (well, apart from a good tuna melt) is Salade Nicoise. You can vary the vegeatables a bit depending on what's on hand.
posted by cali at 8:25 PM on August 23, 2005

Stuffed tomatoes with tuna.

2 tomatoes medium size
1 can of tuna (large)
parsley (or better cilantro)
1 soup spoon oil (better olive oil)
1 tea spoon vinegar (better balsamic vinegar)
mayonnaise (homemade or bought) ---as much as you like

Cut a thin slice from one of tomato's ends. With a tea spoon scoop out the interior leaving a thin wall a quarter inch thick. Mash the tomato extract, with the tuna, the mayonnaise, the parsley and the capers, the oil and the vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Fill in tomato skins with the mix. Serve cold.

Actually you can put other stuffs you like in the filling -eg cheese or eggs or (my preference) anchovies.
posted by carmina at 8:25 PM on August 23, 2005

Oh! and googling got me here: broiled stuffed tomatoes with tuna.
posted by carmina at 8:28 PM on August 23, 2005

too lazy to type out my actual recipe, but this is close enough: kimchi soup
posted by dorian at 8:32 PM on August 23, 2005

I may get lynched by the connisseurs here, but...

...is always reliably good in a pinch. There's a half-dozen variants at my grocery store. It's just like "Hamburger Helper", but with tuna.
posted by unixrat at 9:04 PM on August 23, 2005

I like my tuna salad sandwiches with peas and carrots. My grandma also adds hard boiled egg and sliced green olives. There are a lot of recipes for tuna salad out there!
posted by srah at 9:21 PM on August 23, 2005

We love this in summer:

Chop a bunch each of rocket (arugula), flat-leafed parsley, basil and mint. Not too coarse, not too fine - you don't want pesto, but you don't want salad either. Throw into a large bowl. Add a few diced, super ripe tomatoes; some salted capers (rinsed); a couple of 440g/14oz cans tuna, drained; and the juice of a couple of lemons.

Season very well with flaked salt and freshly-ground black pepper. More. More. You've got to add this to pasta yet. More salt. More. That's enough.

Toss well to combine. Add enough fruity extra virgin olive oil to make it loose and moist, but not sloppy or saucy.

Prepare a 500g/1lb bag of fettucine. Add to herby, oily, salty tuna stuff. Microplane some parmagiano reggiano or pecorino in there. Toss well, serve with a cool reisling.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:33 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

I marinate good canned tuna in lemon juice, olive oil, and some herbs, and add it to my puttanesca sauce.
posted by gyc at 9:35 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

Ultra-cheapo leftover tuna puffs! Mash up some canned tuna, mix in some leftover mashed potatoes, breadcrumbs, an egg, and some spices (add veggies if you want, peas are expecially good). Drop onto a baking sheet from a spoon, bake at around 350 or so until golden brown. Haute cuisine it ain't, but yummy, it is.
posted by biscotti at 9:38 PM on August 23, 2005

Canned tuna, roughly half a cup of breadcrumbs, an egg, a tbsp of sour cream or mayo, chopped onion, garlic (fresh if you have it; powder works fine), parsley (fresh if you have it; dried works fine), plenty of fresh ground black pepper, a good dash of salt, a few dashes of tabasco. Form into balls (add more breadcrumbs if too soft), coat in more breadcrumbs, pan fry (flattening slightly in the process) until crispy brown and cooked through.

Incredibly good with spicy black beans and rice.
posted by Danelope at 9:50 PM on August 23, 2005 [2 favorites]

yeah, i have tuna helper twice a week ... i love it
posted by pyramid termite at 10:18 PM on August 23, 2005

For a few months, during college, being flat broke, I would stop at the convenience store on the way home and make myself a $2 dinner every night. I'd use a pack of high-end ramen noodles (like the kind that are still soft in the package) and whatever canned food caught my eye. Combining the ingredients, I'd make a stir fry for dinner. Tuna worked just fine. Feel free to class this recipe up to suit whatever standards of cuisine your finances can support.

And, off the top of my head, you probably could use canned tuna to make sushi rolls. Sushi really isn't as difficult as it looks. Although the first roll attempt might be an unsightly learning experience, the second will definitely work.

Tuna Sushi rolls:
Step one, Rice:
The right kind of rice is absolutely crucial. Make sure that you find the right kind. If there's a Whole Foods in your area, you can buy the short, white sushi rice in bulk. It's not listed under any other name and is conveniently labeled as "Sushi Rice" (interestingly enough, the big bags of it in the chinatown grocery store near my house are also labeled likewise). Wherever sushi rice is sold, rice vinegar will likely be sold as well. The seaweed, too (it comes in flat, thin packages).
Combine two units of water to one unit of rice (a cup of rice is more than enough). Bring the water (with the rice in) to a boil. As soon as it boils, cover the pot and bring it down to a low simmer. Let it simmer for about 40-50 minutes. You'll want to stir occasionally so the rice doesn't weld itself to the pot. Once the rice is nice and sticky, remove it from the heat and pour a little bit of the rice vinegar on and mix it up.

Step two, Rolls:
So, in your wisdom, you've likely prepared your ingredients while the rice was cooking. Since we're using tuna, cucumber would be a nice compliment. But, since we're hip, experimental, modern folks, we've got the freedom and daring to put anything we want in our sushi. Maybe, we want red peppers, tomatoes, and tuna. Well, whatever you're putting in your sushi, make sure that you cut it in THIN strips because, until you've had some practice, rolling is going to be a challenge and a lot of bulky ingredients will be awkward and frustrating.
If you picked up a bamboo sushi mat while you were gathering your other ingredients, a helpful tip is to cover it in saran wrap. That'll keep the rice from sticking too much and confounding your first sushi rolling attempt. But look out. The sticky rice is REALLY STICKY so you might want to put just a little tiny bit of water on the now plastic coated sushi mat. That'll keep the rice from irrevocably bonding itself to your rolling surface. If you didn't buy a sushi mat, you can probably just put some saran wrap down on your countertop. But do that at your own risk. I can't vouch for how successful that'll be.
So, anyway... Let your rice cool off (you may want to refrigerate it as soon as you've finished cooking it) and, once it's cool, apply a thin layer of it to the sushi mat, maybe 3 or 4 grains thick at the most. Take a piece of dried seaweed from the package and press it down onto the rice. There's no need to rehydrate the seaweed first and, actually, you should avoid getting it wet. It'll dissolve. However, the moisture from the rice will soften it up just enough to make it pliable and edible.
Lay your ingredients in a row near the closest (to you) edge of the seaweed. Make sure that there's enough room for you to be able to wrap the remaining seaweed/rice exterior OVER your ingredients. You can try to use your hands to wrap but the bamboo sushi mat is a great tool. Just pick up the bottom edge of the mat and start rolling it up, with the contents inside. Once you've rolled it up, take the best sharp knife you have, put some water on the blade (again, to keep the rice from sticking and, in this case, to avoid maiming your beautiful roll) and cut your roll into bite sized pieces.
And, presto! You've got homemade tuna sushi rolls. And the only thing you had to cook was the rice!
posted by Jon-o at 10:30 PM on August 23, 2005

My favourite canned tuna meal is made with chunky tuna in oil, ideally smokey flavoured, put some cooked basmati rice in a bowl, add the oily tuna on top - and optionally some chopped up hard boiled egg -- and the most important part: liberally sprinkle furikake all over.

My favourite flavour is chilli, I've tried salmon & wasabi as well, I don't think they're that great by comparison. It's in the international foods section of my supermarket, and I reckon that if it's readily available in Auckland, New Zealand, you must be able to find it where you are.
posted by The Monkey at 10:36 PM on August 23, 2005 [1 favorite]

Tuna mousse: in a food processor, whir together a can of tuna (good Italian tuna in oil preferred), sour cream to taste, salt, a bit of white pepper, a bit of oil from the can and maybe a bit of fresh parsley. It makes a great topping for bruschetta. I often bring it to potlucks when I don't have a lot of time to cook.

IMHO, canned tuna doesn't work in sushi very well.
posted by solid-one-love at 11:46 PM on August 23, 2005

Pasta Niçoise: Heat olive oil in a pan, add herbes de provence, crushed garlic, onions, black pepper, pitted black olives. When the onions are transparent, add well-drained canned tuna, put a few drops of lemon on top, and fry for a minute or two. Turn up the heat, add a dash of white wine, and wait for the alcohol to evaporate (your nose will tell you). Add chopped tomatoes (not too many!) and let the sauce reduce on medium-high heat for 10-15mins.

Meanwhile, cook penne until they're a minute or two away from being done. Drain and add to the sauce, turn up the heat and finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, stirring constantly. Save some of the water from the pasta and add a bit if the sauce is too dry to cook the pasta.
posted by fuzz at 4:43 AM on August 24, 2005

I've been making this Greek Salad with Tuna recipe for years. It's always a hit.

1/2 English cucumber
1/2 pound cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup Kalamata olives
3 ounces feta
a 6-ounce can tuna in olive oil (not drained)

Halve cucumber lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Quarter tomatoes. Pit and quarter olives. Cut feta into 1/4-inch dice. In a bowl toss together cucumber, tomatoes, olives, feta, tuna with oil from can, and salt and pepper to taste, keeping tuna in large chunks.
posted by Otis at 5:15 AM on August 24, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'm glad other people like what my Mom used to call Tuna Noodle Caserole. I don't remember the exact recipe, but I believe it was something like:
Tuna (duh)
Egg noodles (cooked)
Cheese (cheddar?)
Cream of (Mushroom? Celery?) soup

Mix together in caserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake. Yum.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 6:31 AM on August 24, 2005

Fish cakes...
Mash together cooked potatoes, tuna, fresh herbs (coriander, chillies etc). Shape into patties and fry.
Et voila...
serve with sweet chilli sauce and some salad
posted by jonesor at 6:39 AM on August 24, 2005

I like a good Salad Nicoise with tuna. It's a great summer dish, easy to prepare (especially if you gather things together beforehand, and looks and tastes much more impressive than it is.)

Also these recipes from south India (Kerala) are quite good:

Tuna Cutlets-basically fired tuna and potato cakes. They're really yummy.

Tuna Vattichathu-a kind of tuna curry made with canned tuna.

Searching for those recipes made it clear that you can pretty much type "Indian Tuna" into Google and get a bunch of recipes. I'm sure substituting some other nationality for Indian would also yield recipes.

Great thread, by the way. I can't wait to try some of these.
posted by OmieWise at 6:48 AM on August 24, 2005

Dammit no automatic preview, jonesor beat me to it with the tuna cutlet.
posted by OmieWise at 6:49 AM on August 24, 2005

I make a portable lunch for work with a container of lettuce, red peppers, cucumber slices, beets, cannelloni beans, hard-boiled eggs, tomatoes, cooked red potatoes... whatever's fresh or ready to be used up in the fridge. I keep cans of tuna at work and add one to the salad, drizzle Newman's balsamic over the whole thing, and voila.
posted by hamster at 7:25 AM on August 24, 2005

Mashed potatoes with tuna. More than the sum of its parts.
posted by wordswinker at 9:51 AM on August 24, 2005

No tuna application is complete without some Old Bay seasoning. My standard tuna salad routine involves 1 packet tuna, some relish, some celery, some fat free Italian dressing, and Old Bay to taste. You can put it on bread, crackers, or even mix some Cheerios in for a crunchy meal right out of the bowl.

I love the vacuum packs over the cans now. Lot less cleanup/fishy water to drain.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:02 AM on August 24, 2005

I've been making this single serving snack recipe from ediets.com:

Fruity Tuna Salad

1 oz water-packed Tuna (I use 2 tablespoons)
Half of a large celery stalk, chopped
1/4 c. halved red or green grapes
1 T. Italian Dressing (I use Newman's Olive Oil and Vinegar)
posted by marsha56 at 10:23 AM on August 24, 2005

One of my favorite things to do with canned tuna are curried tuna cakes:

Sweat an onion in olive oil until translucent, let cool. Combine tuna, onion, curry powder, hot sauce if you like it, and enough mayonnaise to bind.
Shape into cakes about the size of a small hamburger patty, and cook in a lightly oiled pan until each side has turned golden brown and crunchy, and the center is heated through.

Make a sauce by mixing some mayo with some chopped cilantro, lime juice, and lime zest. Serve the cakes on a bed of lettuce with the sauce. This works better if you use homemade mayo, but the stuff in the bottle is fine, too.

Of course, feel free to adjust this as you see fit.

Salade Nicoise is one of the best things you'll ever eat. It's the perfect "it's too hot to cook" meal.
posted by Lycaste at 4:24 PM on August 24, 2005

Tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches.

1 can tuna,
2 slices bread,
Mayonnaise (to taste),
Black pepper (to taste -- fresh-ground, please),
Mustard (to taste -- I like Colman's english mustard).

Mix tuna, mayonnaise, condiments. Put on bread. Eat.


Note that this same mix goes great on baked potatoes.
posted by Kemayo at 12:00 AM on August 26, 2005

Tuna Jalapeno Dip is one of my favorite tuna recipes. I'm not a big fish eater, but this dip is really dynomite and incredibly satisfying:

1 can of tuna
1/4 - 1/2 cup of mayo to taste (although sour cream would work)
6 oz. of jalapenos (canned jalapenos work better than fresh in this recipe in my opinion)
cilantro to taste
salt and pepper

Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. You can add a bit of olive oil if it's too think for you, or some jalapeno juice. Eat with veggies or tortilla chips. Yum!!
posted by Kimberly at 2:05 AM on August 26, 2005

Not one single mention of tarragon anywhere - tsk tsk.

Great w/tuna in almost any dish.
posted by prodevel at 7:38 PM on August 29, 2005

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