Tuna casserole is a favorite dish of mine to make. In the States, I learned to make it from my mom, and then tried out the “helper” mixes once I was in college (tuna being preferred because a can of tuna is a lot cheaper than a pound of beef!) Here I make it a little differently, and I’ve thought about sharing it with other foreigners here who miss simple home foods, but there isn’t really a forum for it. Teagen did try to start up a “foreigners-in-ZZ” web site once, but I don’t think much ever happened with it, and she’s really busy these days (aren’t we all?), so I doubt any more WILL happen with it any time soon.
Tuna Helper, with almost all “Chinese” (locally bought) ingredients.
The basic recipe is in bold; additions I like are in green. The sources are in parens – local markets=LM; local stores such as Spar, Dennis, or StarMart=LS; import stores such as Better Dennis=BD or Wei San Lu=WSL… WSL is always cheaper but has less variety and is harder to find.
- Heat a large wok on medium heat. (that’s Chinese heat; it would be medium-high or high in the US!)
- Pour in a tablespoon or so of oil; when it’s hot, add 1 or 2 cloves minced garlic (LM) and 1/2 small onion (LM), chopped. Cook till fragrant.
- Pour in 3 cups of hot water, 1 little bag (=1 cup) of milk (LS), half of a small stick or 1/4 of a large stick (=1/4 cup) butter (LS/WSL), one package of dry “Chicken and Mushroom” or “Chicken and Corn” soup mix (LS), and one can of tuna* (BD/WSL). Stir to dissolve the soup mix completely. *You could use cut-up chicken (LM/LS) instead of tuna; in that case, add it before the water so it browns a bit in the oil.
- Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally so the milk doesn’t burn.
- Mix in about 200g of pasta (LS – find it loose where you buy things by weight, or pay more and get it imported and pre-packaged at BD/WSL), and stir occasionally. Add a couple handfulls of chopped vegetables, either fresh (LM) or frozen (BD). I like to put in fresh broccoli and frozen peas and corn, though other things have made their way in.
- When the pasta is almost tender (probably less than 10 minutes), mix in some graded Parmesan cheese (BD/WSL) and/or some broken up block- or pre-sliced-cheese (LS/BD/WSL).
- When pasta is tender, serve and enjoy!
Serves 3 hungry adults, or a family. I think. Being single, I’m never quite sure!
What’s available at local stores varries: I’ve been in some larger stores that don’t have loose pasta, but my medium-sized neighborhood grocery store almost always has a big container of it to scoop out and weigh as much as you want. The same goes for butter and cheese in the dairy section (but dairy is less than half the price if I go to WSL). Theoretically, if you make it with chicken instead of tuna and all fresh veg, it can be made without any trips to special import stores.
On a slightly related topic (food and markets): The food shops in the market next to the local supermarket finally opened again! The government closes them from time to time, and September was one of the times. I was so glad to see all the open stalls and people buying dinner!!! I often buy baozi (steamed bread with meat or veg inside), fried bread, or fried noodles there when I don’t feel like cooking lunch or supper.
And, a quick look at my latest knitting project, Versatility (pattern from Knitty.com, by Amanda Williams):
Half finished. I can hardly wait to share photos of it finished, and in use! I hope it isn’t too cold out to wear it when I finally get it finished.