Early Monday morning, Ben and I arrived home from our month-long travels around South East Asia. We had such a fabulous time, we were very sad to be coming home. Our travels included Vietnam (from South to North), Thailand (in the Kanchanaburi province), Hong Kong (visiting family) and one night in Kuala Lumpur. We especially wished we could have stayed longer at Baan Dada in Thailand. Our visits there never seem to last long enough.
During our travels we had some incredible eats – oodles of noodles, buckets of herbs, countless coconuts, banana each and every way and pork for days. There was rice and soup and buns, not to mention an endless supply of beautiful, fresh, tropical fruit. Visiting Vietnam for the first time allowed us to really got to know the cuisine on a more authentic level. I have many posts planned detailing our delicious culinary adventures throughout Asia! Yet my first post back home is not about Asian cuisine or travel. It is about comfort food.
Coming down from the travel high, one thing that I always look forward to is tucking into the food I have missed whilst abroad. Monday for me was all about oats, muesli, yoghurt, berries and vegemite. Ben had to go to work early on Monday after very little sleep, so I wanted to make him a special, comforting dinner to welcome him home before putting him to bed at a decidedly early hour. He had requested a dish that epitomises comfort food to me. Ben has only eaten this a handful of times at my parent’s house in Red Hill, yet he instantly fell in love with it and came to think of it in the same way as my family. The dish I am speaking of is Tuna Casserole. Technically I think it is more of a Mornay, and we do interchange the name amongst our family, yet I prefer the name ‘Tuna Casserole’ (‘Mornay’ just sounds irksome to me for some reason).
I grew up eating this dish, which would appear on the table after long days or when we had little time to prepare dinner. It is by no means a gourmet feat, rather it was mum’s easy dish, and is both nutritious and comforting (you get a decent serve of calcium and protein). It fills your belly with warmth and love and instantly makes you feel nourished. A serving of this dish equates to one big long hug from a loved one. I was not at all surprised when Ben requested it.
1 ½ tablespoons Butter
½ cup plain flour (I would like to try this with wholemeal flour, for extra fibre)
2 ½ cups milk
1 or 2 x 125g tinned capsicum (depending on how much vinegary capsicum flavour you like. This is a secret ingredient, and completely makes the dish. Fresh capsicum just wouldn’t have the same effect. It is the only time I ever use tinned capsicum, as frankly, it is a little weird. But it totally works in this dish)
1 x 420g tin sweet corn kernels (or less if you don’t enjoy a lot of corn) ½ cup frozen peas (or more if you wish)
1 x 425g tin Sirena tuna in oil (drain the oil)
1 cup grated tasty cheese
A handful of Parsley
In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to low then add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon briskly for ~1 minute. Be sure to not catch the flour on the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat back up to medium and slowly add in the milk, ~1/4 cup at a time, briskly stirring to allow it to combine with the flour. The mixture will be a little lumpy but don’t be discouraged. Keep stirring continuously and allow the sauce to gradually thicken. This process of stirring in the milk slowly will take ~3-5 minutes. If you like a thinner sauce, add in more milk. Once at the desired level of thickness add in the capsicum, corn and peas. Stir them into the sauce then add the tuna. Once the mixture is hot again, add in the cheese and allow it to melt. Serve immediately and garnish with parsley. Serves 4.
One whole month without my beloved Sirena tuna…oh how I have missed thee…
Growing up, my family and I would always eat tuna casserole with some bread and maybe a salad. Oven chips also go well. I like to make my own potato wedges by roasting potatoes in a little spray oil, and serving them alongside the tuna casserole.It is also delicious, hot or cold, on toast for breakfast the next morning (which is exactly what I did today).
I made this earlier in the day, then re-heated it when Ben came home and served it with oven potatoes and bread. He was very pleased. And comforted. And nourished.