Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Fish, Rice, Vegetables: Tuna Casserole template

Tuna casserole is typically made with canned tuna thrown in with a can of cream of mushroom soup, glued together with Mac and Cheese (fine for the nutritional emergency known as adolescence). Noting the basic ingredients are fish, a carbohydrate and a vegetable, while also noting the healthy, traditional Japanese diet starts with fish, rice and vegetables, I put together this tuna casserole. A grown-up number... use it to get in touch with your own taste needs. I shall post the full Japanese version, with tofu, soy and seaweed in a bit, but this is a transition.

2 to 2/12 cups cooked brown rice
10 oz tuna (flake it; bring to room temperature)
1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheddar, swiss or a mix
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

To make mushroom saucy soup:
One medium red onion, chopped, 3 stalks celery, diced, 1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
1/4 C coconut oil, or butter, or sesame oil
1/2 C sour cream, 1/2 C coconut cream, 1/2 C carnation evaporated milk
3 T cornstarch (mixed in 3 T cold water) or 3 T all purpose flour

1 t salt and 1/2 t black pepper for the pot, 1/2 t dried tarragon for the fish, 1/2 t fennel powder for the celery, 1t cumin powder for the onion, 1t cayenne pepper for the mushrooms, 1T paprika for the cheese

Heat oil over low heat and sauté chopped onions for a minute, add cumin, stir. Add celery and fennel, stir. Then add mushrooms, cayenne and salt; stir constantly for a few minutes until vegetables begin give up their moisture. Add cornstarch or flour as through to make a sauce, blending carefully, and remove from heat. Add the sour cream, coconut cream and milk slowly and return to heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. (Note, this is the equivalent of "cream of mushroom soup" in the kiddie tuna casserole version). If this soupy sauce is not thickened enough, return to the heat and add more thickener. Do not stress over exact ingredients, this is tuna casserole, a good dish to experiment with. You cannot make a mistake.

Mix rice and tuna in a large bowl, using your hands. OK, the thing with using your hands is this - many is the time I ended up calling it a day at this point, eating some of this mix with the mushroom soupy sauce on top, and reserving the rest for a smaller casserole. Both smell and taste so wonderful. Like a work of art you have to know when it's done.

To the finish line: Add the mushroom saucy-soup mixture to the rice-fish. Mix carefully. Add the cheese and blend. If you want a firmer casserole add less sauce, or add more rice, or more or less cheese etc. This is where you adjust to your taste. You should taste it from the bowl and adjust spices etc. Pour into an 8 by 8 baking pan or casserole dish and top with breadcrumbs, cheese and paprika.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes. This freezes well.

Taste Values:
Level 1:
Level 2:
Level 3:

[Interpretation of Taste Values from the XYZ Tastewheel (c) 2006 All rights reserved]

Health Values:
Depends on your personal constitution, season, geographical location, and current state of body, spirit and and mind!


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