Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Tuna Melt – Open Face, Insert Hypocrisy

If you watch as much food television as I do, then I’m sure you’ve heard a celebrity chef or two, pontificating about the horrors of combining cheese and fish. They say it’s never acceptable, no exceptions, never, ever.

Of course, after the show ends, they have a couple beers and head for their favorite late-night diner, where they enjoy delicious tuna melts. Those hypocritical bastards. I’m not saying to start pouring nacho cheese sauce over your sautéed sand dabs, but when it comes to food, it’s best to never say never.

As I mention in the video, this will only be as good as your tuna, so use something nice. You know I’m a Tonino man, but any imported, olive-oil packed brand should work fine. By the way, I enjoy the classic, toasted sandwich-style tuna melt a great deal, but this open face version is a little easier to execute, and perfect for larger groups, since you can fit a bunch on a pan.

Whether you use my formula or embellish to your tastes, I really hope you give these a try soon. And, if you know any celebrity chefs, invite them over and see if you can get them to admit this totally works. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 2 large tuna melts:
2 thick slices of Italian or French bread
2 tbsp soft butter
6.5 oz jar of oil-packed tuna, drained
2 tbsp small diced celery
1 tbsp minced green onion
2 tsp capers
1 tsp hot chili sauce or other hot stuff to taste
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp mayonnaise, or more to taste
about 1/3 cup shredded or crumbled fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
cayenne to taste


Joel said...

This looks awesome. Fish and cheese is kind of a rule like how 'y' isn't a vowel. This makes me wish it was a vowel.

MJ said...

I thought tuna melts were always open faced :/ Maybe its a UK thing. I never add mayo, after all, the devil made it and it tastes terrible. I do usually add some lemon juice or butter into the tuna mix, so it doesnt end up dry, but I never thought of adding mozzarella. This will be a nice way to get rid of some of the extra mozz as there always seems to be not quite enough for anything else left! You know the amount. That thing that keeps nagging you when you look into the fridge "eat me, im almost gone and wasted, youre going to throw me out otherwise", but you cannot think of anything to use it with. Now to find some decent tuna I can use for this.

Zac Nelson said...

All I can say is my god this looks amazing. Just wondering, Chef John, Do you use any recipe software at all? I have an app on my Mac called Sous Chef, where you can write your own recipes and as well as find some from the "Community" You can create a cookbook and share it with the world. I think you should make one!

Chef John said...

Sorry, too busy! Thanks though!

Orum said...

But seriously chef, what do you use to keep all your recipes. I would love to know your setup.

By the way, awesome video! But how do you manage the patience to put this on the bread and not just eat the tuna salad is beyond me.

1Bigg_ER said...

Is that Kerrygold white cheddar Chef? That stuff is great!!

Pyrofish said...

I have been reluctant to try the tuna melt. I always think about Tuna Helper from my childhood, and how that just sounded nasty. I may have to give it a try now though. My wife is a fan already of the tuna/cheese.

A couple of things on tuna, as we eat the heck out of some tuna, I like to split my mayo with dijon mustard. Most people have no idea that's what's in there, but it adds so much flavor to the tuna. I'd bet it would be great in this. It also takes away some of that fat, which if you're dieting, is a good way to continue your use of full fat mayo :-) Don't use low fat mayo... just don't...

Number 2, when I took a trip to Malta, what seems like a lifetime ago, they had a sandwich IIRC called a Maltija. Malta is big in Tuna farming, and they seem to have a ready supply of the tastier non-all-white meat. To this was added sweet corn, Extra virgin Olive Oil, olives, capers, and onions. All served on a crusty bread with tomato rubbed into the bread. This was so delicious, all of us who ate it, came back to the US to try to make it. I came close, but never quite as good as theirs.

Food for thought on your future tuna adventures :-)

Elle McGrath said...

this looks amazing.
what kind of bread do you buse for the sandwich?

Jake said...

Chef John, I have a confession to make. I did use the cat food-tuna...

The recipe turned out excellent anyway, so I can only imagine how great it'll be with some better tuna. Cheers for a great recipe I'll be making again and again.

Chef John said...

I just used basic loaf of french bread. Any oval loaf will work

cleanerB said...

we have a family friend that uses cream of mushroom instead of mayo

Elisabeth Bottoms said...

hey John! another wonderful modification to a classic. i did this last night for the wife and kids with the following twists: i had a small slab of smoked salmon left over from the holidays that was reaching its due date, so i put a thin slice on each of the breads after i pulled them out of the oven. then topped with the mass (i had buffalo mozz... so good) and forgot to get cheddar cheese, so i used ementaller cheese for the top. turned out absolutely amazing. btw served with vinegar sea-salt kettle chips and little cornichons.

great job! and greets from Vienna,
d and e

inchrisin said...

Thank you Sensei,

I used 80% of your recipe, added some dill and tarragon and threw swiss and parm on top. I'm not a picky eater, but very critical of what I make in the kitchen. Most of the stuff I make is good, but this turned out GREAT! So simple, so delicious.

mdb139 said...

I made this tonight for my wife and me... and they were wonderful! Thanks Chef John!

I'm used to (and don't mind at all) "basic" tuna melts on english muffins -- and in fact thought that was the norm. These were much, much better -- for essentially the same effort! A nice, satisfying meal that can be prepped end-to-end in twenty minutes.

I did make one change: The fresh mozzarella I have easy access to is much firmer than what was shown in the video, so I decided to use ricotta instead. Turned out wonderfully, and was faithful, I think, to Chef John's vision.

Regarding the tuna itself: I don't mind the grocery brand canned tuna packed in water generally speaking, but I happened to visit my Italian grocery this weekend (with this recipe in mind, in all honesty) and splurged on a high-quality, imported Italian tuna packed in olive oil ($11 for 4.5 oz). It was better, but probably not worth the extra money or going out of your way for, in my opinion. YMMV.

While it should be obvious that using a nice bread and high-quality ingredients of course elevate the humble tuna melt -- and they totally did here -- the real surprise for me was the capers.

Thanks again!

mdb139 said...

I made a variation of this last night for a quick Friday night dinner. I happened to have an oven-roasted chicken breast that I hadn't used, so I used that instead of tuna. I otherwise followed the recipe and thought it turned out quite well.

Reece Crump said...

I was a picky eater when I was younger, so every day I'm discovering new foods that are in reality pretty every day and affordable(and delicious). thank you for another of those, chef.

Georgia Dabinett said...

Cannot believe how yummy this is. Every bite. Used recent olive oil poached tuna. Wondering if we can have this every night for dinner.

Ryan James Jenkins said...

This looks amazing I will have to try this out

shelly said...

The best tuna melt ever! No other recipes even come close!!! This is in a league all of its own.

littlebirdy said...

Just made this for lunch. Delicious! My 14 yr old son asked If I could put this in his daily sandwich rotation. Thank you for your amazing videos. Every one that I fix is always a hit.