Welcome to FRIDAY FISH, 2023! I’ll take any of you along on my journey and be glad for the company. This is the 10th year I’ve created seven weeks of new fish and seafood recipes for FRIDAY FISH during Lent. If you’d like to see previous years’ recipes, click on “Friday Fish” or “Fish and Seafood” or a specific like “Salmon“ or “Tuna” in the subject cloud. Happy fishing!
We don’t typically think about fish for breakfast first off. Not too often, but there are moments. Bear with me. Consider…. Grilled trout over an open fire while on a fishing or camping trip. Roasted salmon on a creamy benedict along with a mimosa in a swanky restaurant with a view. And, if you read the Christian bible, didn’t Jesus cook fish for the disciples? (You could check John 21.) Even here on the blog, we’ve happily consumed Shrimp and Green Chile Quiche or Smoked Salmon Frittata with Horseradish Yogurt. And so, over the last several weeks as I’ve sussed out ways to increase my breakfast protein grams, I’ve more than once ran out to the garage pantry for a can of tuna, later falling in love with the fresh layered morning treat of a meal. Open-faced breakfast sandwiches like benedicts spell fat, calories, and cash but think about a similar dish where low-fat fish protein, fresh tomatoes, and eggs are the stars rather than hollandaise and smoked ham. Not that I don’t like hollandaise or ham (you know me), but it’s a once in a blue moon thing, right? Here, we go with a marinara plus a tish of Parmigiano-Reggiano to set off our tuna and I’m talking healthy enough for every day. You still get your egg(s); you for sure will have an English muffin. Do go for whole wheat or high fiber. This is happy enough to keep you totally full until lunchtime. Fast enough that you’re eating in five minutes. Maybe even feeding your best sous or partner, too. Keep your mind open. If I made this for you, you’d eat it. Honest engine.
You adore clam chowderbut your cupboard is full of tuna. It’s ok; I’ve got it covered. You can still have chowder–with tuna!! Does it work? Yes, yes; it totally does. And is it yummy? It definitely is. I thought about making chowder with canned tuna for a long time before I did it, but now that I have, it’s in my playbook for good. Tuna Chowder is easy, inexpensive, and even qualifies for what we’d call, “Cheap Eats.” This version adds some tiny ditalini pasta for fun and texture, but if you don’t like it, just add extra potatoes and you’ll be fine. Last time I cooked shrimp, I saved the shells in my freezer and was able to make a fast shrimp stock to bolster the flavor of the chowder. (Buying fish stock is above my pay grade at $3 a 15-ounce can. You can make it, though.) Vegetable broth is ok, too, and is better when spiked with a little clam juice, which is sold right near tuna at the store. Even chicken broth works in a pinch.
Like many of you, I have probably for most of my life made tuna salad pretty much like my mother did. A can of tuna, a few spoons of mayo, one chopped hard cooked egg, a little onion, pickle and celery and — Fanny’s your aunt — hot weather lunch was served with little or no stove time. Over the years, though, as my cooking developed, so did my tuna salad. One year I was shocked to see that a happy little bit of lemon zest had slipped into the mixing bowl by “mistake.” Whoa! Another time a dab of perky horseradish became a sudden, but happy addition. Soon, though not always, cucumbers/fennel/carrots/bell peppers joined the party along with a good healthy spoonful of Dijon-style mustard, cornichons leftover from a wine and cheese event I catered, and —wait for it — a big splash of red wine vinegar. The biggest change was the consistent use of salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, along with the occasional herbs, no matter what else I dumped in. Why didn’t I ever season my tuna salad before? (Mom, you didn’t tell me.) Of course I often ate it on toast, but sometimes I went with the old school ladies’ lunch counter lower-carb style: spooned into the middle of a quartered tomato, hopefully ripe. Other weeks, I thinned it out and ate it scooped up with potato chips or Triscuits (HELLO, TUNA DIP!!) — Triscuits being one of my most unknown addictions. (The rye were the best, but they discontinued them–sob, sob. Now I’m even more stuck on the organic thin variety. Try them and see. Nope, I’m not on Nabisco’s payroll.) After a while, my tuna salad was never the same twice in a row. Who knew what would happen next to my trusty, inexpensive summer fun food? And, by the way, how did we come to eat so much tuna fish??
I haven’t made a tuna casserole in so many years that I can’t count. I like the stuff, but my husband says he had his fill during our early married life when I often made my sister’s Helen’s version — she always baked the good kind with potato chips, of course.
I don’t remember eating lentils as a kid. Even lentil soup — on many tables this week as it’s such a pantry-friendly meal — came to me in adulthood, albeit from a much-loved friend and oddly enough during a hot week at the beach on the Outer Banks. If I ate it earlier, I have no memory of the meal and more’s the pity. The “Lentil” I knew was the Lentil of Caldecott Award- winning author Robert McCloskey (MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS) fame since I’m a lifelong avid reader and also trained and worked as a school librarian at one time in my life.
Some days, nothing but tuna will do. Healthy, tasty, already-in-your-pantry canned tuna has solved many a meal dilemma at my house and probably at yours, too. Blast from the past ladies’ luncheon tricks like tuna salad stuffed tomatoes (or Hot Tuna-Stuffed Peppers)
If you’re like me, there are some days you will not be going to the grocery store. Maybe it’s Sunday and you know how crazy the parking lot is or perhaps it’s a warm Thursday night and you’ve had it. (What is “it?”) Could be you’re too busy enjoying the irises blooming for the first time in eleven years – below. Or you’re avoiding the mama robin nested outside your back door so you can work in the garden without her defecating on you. (Second photo below: Yes, she did this to me.)
In reality, you unthawed nothing because you were, uh, working, reading a sleazy novel at the pool, running kids, on a hike, at a meeting, or watching movies. Could be you’re lazy, which is an admirable once-in-a-while quality. Do cultivate it. You are not lighting the grill and you’re not opting out by ordering pizza or Chinese. You could eat a green salad. Again.
Our dogs always hope I go with the pizza idea as they get the crust.
I am a dyed-in-the-wool Patricia Wells fan. This ex-pat food writer and cooking teacher extraordinaire is a favorite fromwaaaay back. If you don’t know Patricia or her work, I borrowed the following from her website and I don’t think she’ll mind…
More About Patricia….
Patricia Wells is a journalist, author, and cooking school teacher who has lived in France since 1980. A former reporter for The New York Times, she was global restaurant critic for the International Herald Tribune for more than 25 years. She has written fourteen books, is a four-time James Beard Award winner, and has been honored by the French government for her contribution to French culture. She runs her cooking school, At Home with Patricia Wells, in both Paris and Provence, where she lives with her husband, Walter, retired executive editor of the International Herald Tribune.
I haven’t yet had the honor of studying with her in Paris or Provence (though I lust after the opportunity on a yearly basis), but it’s in the plan, on the bucket list, and alive in my prayers. I HAVEN’T GIVEN UP!! DON’T RETIRE, PATRICIA! Continue reading →
Some of my loved ones are crazy about tuna. About old-fashioned tuna salad, in particular. While I do like it, tuna salad –the mayonnaise variety we eat on toast or stuffed in tomatoes — isn’t my totally very favorite forever salad. I do, however, adore Tuna Niçoise or a grilled tuna salad like the one below I often make in the summer:Continue reading →
For years, my good friend Sue Hall has made a favorite dish of white beanstopped with grilled tuna… It might have been enhanced by some earthy fragrant rosemary or a few onions, depending on the day. Healthy, luscious, I remember this plate of goodness as one of the perfect al fresco summer meals.
When I bought some cryovac-packed tuna steaks at my local grocery (frozen fish=good idea in Colorado/great value), I thought of Sue and wondered how many times I’d seen her make this tuna meal albeit with fresh tuna. While I’m not at the beach where Sue loves to cook, I’m happy to be home cooking in my own kitchen…
after two weeks of restaurant and cruise food. Even Italian, Greek, Turkish, or Croatian restaurant and cruise food!
(Below– from our trip: Yummy Izmir, Turkey breakfast with honey and orange marmalade where I put a big piece of what I thought was cheese on my bread and found out it was a half-inch thick, 4″x2″ piece of butter-see bottom of photo!)
Here’s my spin on this happy fish meal. I filled it out with a root vegetable hash mixed with time-saving canned cannellini beans, placed it on a frame of asparagus for greenery, and topped the tuna with barely steamed scallions along with the bonus: a huge thick piece of crispy bacon. Thanks, Sue! (From top left, clockwise: Sue, Lani, Kim, and I at our last beach trip.) Continue reading →