Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Visitor

In the tradition of Soulemama/Soulepapa, Ben will be posting here today because he has a little something up his sleeve to share with ya'll. For someone who claims he "can't cook", he does a pretty damn good job when he tries, and he knocked my socks off again tonight with his favorite recipe. So now, dear friends, I'm passing the old laptop over to him so that he may take the reins and share his deepest, darkest culinary secrets with you.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve eaten (with great zeal) tuna fish. I love tuna. My Grandma Cronkhite first made for me the tuna salad that I have lusted for all my many years on this earth. I still remember that fateful day. It was a wonderful whole wheat bread, some onion, regular mayonnaise, the texture was so smooth and “the c-word” (my wife DESPISES the word “creamy”.). Never was I able to recreate the magic that Grandma weaved for lunch that day. That is, until a short time ago…. After many, many attempts, sleepless nights, and a romantic relationship or two, I’ve managed to reverse engineer a sample of her culinary wares. Grandma is sharp, but she never saw me tuck the second half of my sandwich away to be frozen, sampled, and quietly reverse-engineered numerous times over the next twenty years.

Here is what I’ve learned… There are three unbreakable, infallible rules that you need to abide by. Violating these rules is like laughing at gravity, telling physics to go scratch, and head-butting father time. You just don’t do it. The results could be catastrophic.

First of all, not just any tuna will do. When making world-class tuna salad, you NEED to go with solid white tuna in water. You can try the other stuff, but I can guarantee that your taste buds will convince you of the simple truth… Solid white is the way to go, just the same way that white meat chicken makes the best chicken salad. The better the tuna, the better the salad.

Secondly… Don’t fear your condiments. I use but three other ingredients in addition to the tuna itself:

Mayonnaise, onion powder, and pepper (preferably freshly cracked). For those adventurous enough to attempt it, I recommend adding a fourth – sriracha.

Third, when mixing, make the tuna sorry that it was you who decided to adopt it. The mommy dearest treatment is quite appropriate, minus the wire hangers. Grind, mash, and punish your mixture until it’s a smooth, uniform consistency.

I normally make one can at a time. It seems to help me keep all the ingredients in perfect proportion.

Here are my amounts (roughly):

1 Can of solid white tuna (again – in water)
3 tbsp mayonnaise (preferably Hellmann’s) – Enough to make it plenty moist, but not soggy and more liquid than solid.
1 tsp onion powder
1-1 + ½ tsp pepper (again, preferably freshly cracked)

Combine all ingredients, then, proceed to crush, kill, and destroy until smooth.
I usually mix for approx. 5 minutes.

If you’re adventurous, and like a nice bite to your tuna, try adding a little sriracha (Vietnamese garlic-chili sauce).

Done, and enjoy.

It’s a very simple recipe, and adding the traditional minced onion and celery will not hurt, but is not necessary. The base seems to stand on its own nicely.

"Alcohol's my drink. I never drink water: fish make love in it!” – W.C. Fields

No comments: