Dear John Recipes: How-To-Make Creamed Tuna on Rice
This is a new category dedicated to my son, John, who is a very accomplished cook but he sometimes likes to know “Howd-ja-do-that?” I hope to give him a few frugal recipes to help stretch his teacher’s salary.
The first recipe, Creamed Tuna, is one that I made often when John and his brother were growing up, when money wasn’t particularly free-flowing. It’s cheap, nay frugal, and only takes a few minutes to prepare. It’s filling and warming: comfort food on the cheap. And in the spirit of BBC’s Blue Peter telly program, here’s one that I made earlier (along with Dan Lepard’s soda bread) …
There are endless ways to change this into something entirely different: stir in cooked pasta, serve on toasted, thick-sliced bread, add different vegetables, stir in some grated cheese, etc. I’ll give it more thought, and we’ll see how many different ways we can kill off a tin of tuna.
Creamed Tuna on Rice (serves 2)
2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 small yellow or red onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced the same size as the diced onion
2 tablespoons plain flour
400ml milk (approx)
½ chicken bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon liquid bouillon (optional)
a handful frozen peas (thawed)
1 small tin crispy sweet corn, drain liquid into measuring cup with milk
2 tins tuna steaks, drained (spring water is best)
white pepper to taste
1 tablespoon half-fat crème fraîche (optional but tasty)
chopped fresh chives or parsley
Start cooking your rice.
Turn on the kettle, and pour boiling water over the frozen peas in a sieve. Allow to drain.
Melt the butter or margarine in a pot over low heat. Add the diced onion and celery, stir well so it’s covered with the butter, and then clap on the lid and cook over low heat until onion is just barely translucent. Stir after one minute and clap the lid back on tight. The onion should be cooked in 2-3 minutes.
Sprinkle the onion and celery mixture with the flour. Stir well until it is fully incorporated and coating the veg. Cook and stir for one or two minutes on low heat so that the flour ‘cooks’ away the raw flour taste. While the flour is cooking, microwave the milk for 20-30 seconds to take the chill off. It should feel warm on your finger.
Slowly add the milk, bit by bit, stirring with a balloon whisk in between each addition so that the flour doesn’t lump in the milk mixture. If it does, no worries – just whisk/stir like crazy and it will un-lump as long as your milk is finger-warm. Icy-cold milk is apt to lump. Warm milk won’t.
Now add roughly half of the milk in a slow steady steam, whisking/stirring constantly as you pour. Allow the mixture to come up to a simmering bubble, stirring the whole time. The mixture will start to thicken as it simmers. Continue adding a bit more milk until you achieve a moderately thick sauce. Keep it slightly thicker than you want it when finished. It’s easier to thin out the sauce later, but darned difficult to thicken it more. This is just like make gravy…except it’s the old fashioned, proper way.
Add the chicken bouillon, stir until dissolved. Now add the thawed peas and sweet corn. Stir again. Add the optional rounded tablespoon of crème fraîche, assuming that calories aren’t an issue. Stir. You will notice that the crème fraîche loosens the sauce slightly. That’s why we left it a bit thick earlier.
Add the canned tuna, breaking up the chunks with a fork if needed. Be careful when stirring the creamy tuna sauce now, as you don’t want the tuna to break up into stringy threads. Gently gently does it at this point. Now taste it. Add salt if you want. Add a small bit more bouillon if it’s too bland.
Drain the rice. Spoon the creamy tuna over hot cooked rice, and sprinkle chopped chives or parsley over the top.