I still haven’t really learned how to make Yemeni dishes. So, I stick to a lot of American dishes still. One of the things everybody in our house likes is tuna patties.
So here’s a simple recipe for them (and of course, as usual, loaded with lots of commentary). If you are new to Yemen, there might be a few good tips here and there, in general.
3 cans tuna (tunah) (I feed nine, so you can probably use maybe two cans for a smaller family or use the 3 for more meatier patties.
1 – 2 tbsp diced onions (basal) (I only chopped the onions one time and I had big onion pieces protruding out, so diced is better)
1 – 2 slices bread (khubz, well actually there are many names for bread here, depending on the type), cubed
1 Maggi cube (cube – mak’ab) (optional)(More on the Maggi cube later, insha Allah)
Pepper (fil fil)
1 egg, (beydh, as they pronounce it here, with a kind of “th” sound on the end as in “bathe” ),beaten
Its funny because growing up, I absolutely hated tuna. I remember sitting across the lunch table from kids with tuna salad sandwiches and got sick to my stomach, I didn’t like the way it looked or smelled. But, Alhamdulillah, I guess I have acquired a taste for it in my old age because my kids love it.
- Drain the cans of tuna and put in bowl.
Add onions, salt and pepper (ok, not exact amounts here, I just take and shake the salt and pepper across the surface from one side of the bowl to the opposite); add 1 crumbled Maggie cube. I also throw in some garlic powder if I am not using a Maggi cube.
Maggi cubes are so big here that they get their own little commentary. They were very popular in Egypt as well. They are essentially bouillon cubes, but much better than the ones that I used to buy in the states. They are actually bigger and shaped like rectangular cubes. They are much more flavorful to me. Maggi is a brand name, here they also come from a company called Faragello. The Faragello brand tastes more like the bouillon cubes in the states and if you are looking to make just a straight chicken broth, Faragello is probably the one, but I prefer the Maggi for just about everything else as it is more flavorful. I have to watch when I open a Maggi cube because little fingers try to take pinches off to eat. When I say they are big here, they are big here. In City Mart, these cubes (and a few related products) take up a whole aisle there. (Well, it’s a short aisle, but still). You can use them for basically anything you cook for dinner, they are used a lot in rice dishes. They are like a staple here.
- Add the cubed bread. Tip: Sometimes I add more than this, the bread is a filler and can really stretch how much you have.
Add one beaten egg to the mixture (it binds it together) and stir everything up.
Really, you can make a tuna loaf or tuna burgers. Since I have so many to feed, I usually make a lot of little patties.
If you want to make a loaf, just form the mixture into a loaf and bake. I would say maybe 30 minutes, I don’t really time stuff. If it looks done, I take it out and test the inside. Since you can eat tuna out of the can, you are just concerned with the egg and bread cooking in and the whole thing having a little golden crispiness to it.
For patties, you can deep fry, skillet fry, or bake. For deep frying or skillet fry, I dip the patties in some flour on both sides. I am not the greatest at frying, things tend to come out too greasy so I prefer to bake them. As for the temperature, couldn’t really say, the stoves here don’t typically have the degree markings, I usually just turn it up all the way and then maybe down a bit. But you are just looking for them to get a little crispy and golden on the outside, I wouldn’t use high, high temps.
Its pretty funny because when I started college, I couldn’t cook much more than boiled hot dogs. When I had my first child, I got out my mom’s Better Homes and Garden cookbook that she had given me and just experimented and started to love cooking. Now, years later, I find amazingly, that I pretty much cook without exact amounts and just (most of the time) know how much goes in, a shake of this, a pinch of that and even smell things to determine if I need more of something or not.