Tuna Quesadilla

"One Jeremy Priven special, coming up!"
Tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna. Toona fortuna. "Toona, es quesadilla?" Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? I started making tuna less of an accident and more a regular part of my diet, after looking for a nutritious, low fat alternative to meat. Tuna is a lean protein, contains natural vitamins and minerals, can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and contains precious omega-3 fatty acids, that can help lower the risk of heart disease. Among other things. It can be used in a variety of ways, and tuna adds little cost to the meal. So the choice was a no-brainer. But was an unfettered tuna diet literally a no-brainer; ie. a bad idea?

Because after extolling the virtues of my new tuna-friendly diet, someone asked me "Aren't you afraid of all that mercury"? "Mercu-what?" "Mercuree"?? "You mean like the Ford Mercury??". Two minutes of Googling and I could already conclude; "Oh well, it was good while it lasted". Because this too turned out to be too risky to consume regularly. The reason is tuna is a large fish, and has had more time to consume methylmercury in its fatty tissue. (Fresh tuna is even worse, and raw tuna is practically death on a plate).

How DO they get such a big fish
in such a small can? We can thank the
miracle of modern packaging for that.
Some species of canned tuna are worse than others, for mercury levels. Like Yellowfin, Skipjack and Tongol is more likely to contain lower levels of mercury than Albacore. Albacore from the U.S. west coast is said to have far lower mecury levels than found in some other parts of the world. But cans of tuna don't tell you where the albacore came from, and some don't even tell you what species of tuna you're eating. Skipjack (aka "light tuna"), is reported to have the lowest levels of mercury, as it is a smaller species. Most canned tuna sports this variety. Safe consumption levels for adults is about 6oz. (ie. one can) a week. So for me, that just means I have to ease off a bit on the tuna.

Since canned tuna is bland, I wanted a way to spice it up a bit. Although tacos are usually ground meat, they can also contain fish. And if that's true, why not a quesadilla? I often keep flour or corn tortillas in the freezer. So a tuna quesadilla is something that can be made very easily, on the fly, in a jiffy, and a tasty way to enjoy tuna. Here's how that might go....



Start preparing a few flour or corn tortillas. (If frozen, warm and soften them up in a microwave oven, on a plate covered with a moist paper towel, for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Depending on how many you have). In a medium non-stick skillet, dump a can of tuna (preferably skipjack variety) packed in oil, including the oil, along with half a chopped onion (optional), and begin to heat on medium. Add about a generous teaspoon (in total) of Mexican/Spanish type spices or seasoning.

Sometimes I like to add Triguisar seasoning (see recipe). It could be one of the Sazon Goya Adobo seasoning mixes, or a fish seasoning, or individual spices/herbs. Such as cumin, turmeric, annato powder, salt, pepper, mexican chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cayenne pepper; etc. Let the seasoning cook in the tuna/oil for a minute. Pour in a few tablespoons of salsa, and mix well. Continue to cook on med. until the mixture is thickened. Then take off the heat, and add in one half cup of shredded cheese of your choice (cheddar, Monterrey, Mozarella, etc). Mix well until melted.


Place a tortilla on a plate or cutting board, and pour some of this mixture onto the softened tortilla. Not too much, enough to spread across one half of the tortilla. Repeat with more tortillas, until the mixture is used up. (How many tortillas you need, depends on their size). If the tortillas are flour, then fold them in half. If they are corn, then top them with another corn tortilla.

To cook the quesadillas, you can use a lightly oiled grill and grill them like hamburgers. Or the skillet you used to make the mixture.... Clean up your non-stick skillet with a paper towel, and heat a tablespoon or so of vegetable oil in it. Add the folded (and filled) flour tortillas, or the filled corn tortillas. Brown the tortillas on both sides, until moderately browned, and the cheese filling has melted. Cut the flour tortillas in half or thirds. (n.b. The corn tortillas may break apart if you cut them). Serving suggestion: Simple green salad, with a simple lemon or lime dressing.

Yield: 2


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