Wednesday, November 15, 2006


For years I cooked making up dishes as I went along; using what happened to be on the shelves and then using my imagination to divine what combination of ingredients would work. Everything turned out pretty good. I can only recall one disaster. It was because I didn’t realize a package of bread crumbs was heavily salted. Why the hell would they salt bread crumbs?

But of all the dishes I invented, I never wrote anything down and I would forget the ingredients usually as soon as the meal was over. I had some standbys though, dishes whose ingredients were so simple and the family liked so much that I made them often. One of these was a tuna casserole. That’s a can’t miss dish hot or cold.

I decided to make that dish here in Bangkok. My Thai family had never heard of it. Then I looked on the shelf. The only pasta there was rice vermicelli. That comes in long, thin threads. They use it in soups. What the hell. I’d give it a shot.

It turned out pretty good so I’m writing down the recipe. The ingredients:

170 gm. (6 ounce) package rice vermicelli
2 6 1/2 oz cans chunk tuna in veg. oil
2 medium onions
2 full garlic flowers
2 oz chopped jalapenos (chopped dill pickles can be substituted)
2 oz chopped black olives
1 tablespoon horse radish
4 to 6 oz mayonnaise. (Depends on how dry you want it.)

Use a medium sized pot. Fill it half full of water and put it on low heat and cover. (Low heat because you have other stuff to do before it boils.)

Chop up the onions and garlic. Put them in a microwave proof bowl and put the oil from the tuna cans over them. Cover and microwave on medium high for 3 minutes. Leave an escape hatch for gas in case it gets too intense.

By that time the pot should be boiling. Shove in the vermicelli. Don’t worry about the size of the pot or the amount of water. Veremicelli collapses quickly into the liquid. But you must be careful of the timing. A minute should be enough. Any more and you get vermicelli mush. Drain thoroughly leaving the pasta in the pot.

Break up any large tuna pieces. Add all the ingredients to the pot (including the oil from the tuna cans). No need to heat the tuna, this is not a heat sensitive dish. Toss as you would a salad. You can transfer it to a bowl or serve from the pot.

It was a big hit here. My Thai family had never seen anything like it. One drawback, it is not as good the next day as a salad. It’s still good, but not as good as with macaroni.

NOTES: Only buy tuna in oil. What would you rather have, oil or water when the price is the same. Duh! I always found use for the oil. I used it to fry eggs if nothing else.

The jalapenos or pickles are to add the tang which many seafood dishes need. I once went to a locally famous chowder place in Orange County, CA. It’s The Crab Cooker on the Balboa Peninsula. The chowder was good but it cried out for vinegar. They didn’t have any. Can you imagine a seafood place that doesn’t have vinegar? But that’s Orange County, a place not famous for its restaurants.


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