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October 1, 2007

Spare Tuna the Can; Your Quesadilla is Calling


Perhaps no sandwich meat is more abused than canned tuna fish.


When met in its meatier, thicker cousin – the tuna steak – it is a joy to behold. When met in canned form, it is usually just soaked in mayonnaise and laid to rest on a bed of preservative-soaked white bread. It insults that greatest of meals – the sandwich.


Let us end the insult by leaving the mayonnaise in the refrigerator, and by nestling it inside a quesadilla.

Drain and mash the tuna into very small pieces. Shoot for pieces that are small enough that they are barely visible to the naked eye. Only one person – channeling the Great Chefs – has ever achieved this. This person has not been seen since, and it is said that for his transgression, he was wrapped in an oversized tortilla and dropped into a lake of enchilada sauce. With this in mind, you would be well advised to shoot high, but accept less. The Great Chefs do not suffer fools lightly.

 Now, add chopped green onion and red pepper and mix thoroughly.

It is time to attend to the tops and bottoms of your quesadilla. Warm a frying pan over medium heat. This is important because too much heat will scorch and blacken your tortilla, something which generally diminishes the experience of eating it. Lay a tortilla down on the warmed frying pan and over it spread out some shredded Swiss cheese. Personal taste might also prompt you to use shredded Monterey Jack, or shredded Mozzarella.

Allow the cheese to start to melt together, and then lay down a layer of the tuna. Next, lay down another layer of shredded cheese, and cover this with the second tortilla.

By now, something should become apparent. Regardless of how the word quesadilla translates into English, it still just means “melt-style sandwich using tortillas instead of bread.” You have now clued into something important. Hold onto it as if it were the last gasp of air you’ll ever breathe. Clarity these days is in short supply.

At first, the heat will soften the tortilla, which is your goal if you desire to wrap the tortilla around something. With a quesadilla, you want to shoot past this. Push the upper limits of what the tortilla can take. It will go from soft to hardened, and will begin to warp in the heat. The time to flip is at the point where it has stiffened, but before it scorches. This is a very narrow window, and it is the difference between success and utter failure.


Once flipped, you have now oriented yourself to the signs to look for with the other tortilla. Allow this one to also soften, and then harden to the point right before it scorches. Once it has hit this point, the cheese is melted.


Remove from heat, and allow a minute or two to cool off. Cut it with a pizza cutter, as you would a pie, and then serve while still warm with either sour cream or salsa.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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