Foodie Friday: Tuna and Grits

Bahamian breakfasts love to feature fish. Boil fish, for example, is probably the most popular.  Another alternative, however, especially if fresh fish is unavailable, is tuna-and-grits.

While it may not sound like the loftiest of culinary fare, it is a frequent choice and even featured on restaurant menus. It’s also become a favorite of mine. One that I actually crave.

Until this week, however, I had never actually made it. It seemed simple enough. I make tuna salad with some frequency and that’s half the battle. I suspect it was the grits that seemed more daunting. While not uniquely Bahamian, grits are not part of my repertoire. I have loved them since my southern days, but never actually prepared them.

So imagine my delight when, in quizzing Beau as to what kind of grits I should buy (e.g., white vs. yellow, quick vs. cooked), he seemed unconcerned about using quick instead of cooked. That would never fly with rice, for example, so I thought I’d take advantage of it and give it a try!

So, yes, I used quick grits in my first attempt. Now that I’ve conquered it, I’ll try cooked grits one of these days. I’m also thrilled to have grits on hand now – such that I can whip this up whenever I get a hankering.

Without further ado . . . Bahamian tuna and grits.

The Process

As you know from prior Foodie posts, I like to gather my ingredients first.  For the tuna salad:  canned tuna (in water, not oil), real Hellman’s mayo!, limes, black pepper, seasoned salt, garlic or garlic powder, sweet pepper (a.k.a. green pepper), onion, tomato and hot pepper (here is a local bird pepper).  For the grits I just used white quick grits.

The Ingredients.

Tuna Salad

First, I made the tuna salad.  Opening two cans of tuna, I pressed out as much water as possible. Emptying the tins into a bowl, I used two forks to break up the clumps and finely flake all the tuna. I added the juice of one lime, plus a healthy dash of seasoned salt, black pepper and some garlic powder.

After a good stir, I turned my attention to the onion and sweet pepper.  You can chop this finely, but I prefer to use a little chopper – the ancient precursor to a food processor that is still hanging in there for me. By nearly pureeing it, the pepper and onion make lots of juice to help keep the tuna moist (and reduce the need for so much mayo!).  I dumped in about 3/4 cup of the combined pepper/onion and gave it all another stir.

Some people add diced tomatoes, some don’t. Although I don’t usually include tomatoes in tuna salad for sandwiches, I like the extra sweet and texture in tuna-and-grits. So I diced up about half a tomato and added it.

I threw in a couple spoons of mayo, then began the tasting/adjusting process.  This dish really pops with lots of lime, so I squeezed in another whole lime. I also felt decadent and added more mayo.  Nearly ready.

Tuna Salad

All that remained was the hot pepper. Since my mother was visiting and not a fan of too much spice, I took pity on her and separated our bowls of tuna at this point.  Into my bowl, I added most of a super-finely-chopped pepper. Mmmm. That was the pièce de résistance.

Bird Pepper, ready and waiting.

I love the contrast of hot and cold with this dish, so while I turned my attention to making the grits, I put the tuna salad in the fridge to chill. I also think letting it sit for awhile before eating helps the flavors set in and allows for any final tweaking.  Same for fish salad and other things, but I digress . . .

Grits

Well, this part is easy. Kinda. I simply followed the package directions. Measuring the grits, I added them after the water came to a strong boil.

Just added the grits. Very watery at first.

Per package directions, I cooked them 5-7 minutes. They still seemed too watery, so I took the lid off and cooked them down some more.

Thickening up.

Putting It All Together

I checked the tuna one last time – all good. Ladling a healthy spoonful of grits onto our plates, I then added the tuna salad on the side. (Had the grits been a bit thicker, as I prefer, I would have used more and nestled the tuna salad in a hole in the middle.)

Ready to eat!

Diving in, I scooped up a bit of grits and a bit of tuna with each forkful. If I say so myself, it was delicious! :)

Craving satisfied.

Recipe Recap

Tuna Salad

  • 2 cans tuna salad in water
  • Seasoned salt, black pepper and garlic powder to taste
  • approx 1/3 of large onion
  • approx 1/4 of large sweet pepper
  • approx 1/2 tomato (optional)
  • 2 limes
  • approx 2 tbsp. mayo
  • hot pepper to taste

Drain tuna and flake into bowl. Add seasoned salt, black pepper and garlic to taste. Add juice of two limes (fresh!). Chop finely or puree green pepper and onion. Add to bowl. Add 2 tbsp. mayo or to taste. Optional: add diced tomato. Add hot pepper to taste. Stir well. Chill. After setting, taste again and adjust seasoning and/or mayo.

Grits

White or yellow, instant or cooked

Follow package directions!

Combine

While grits are piping hot, ladle onto a plate. Add a scoopful of cold (or room temp) tuna salad. Eat together and enjoy!

Have you ever had tuna-and-grits? How does it sound? What is your favorite regional breakfast? Any grits tips or techniques to suggest to me?

I’ll return from Regatta next week and report in! Meanwhile, have a wonderful weekend and enjoy YOUR Better Life.

6 Responses to Foodie Friday: Tuna and Grits

  • Chris says:

    Love tuna and grits! Always get some at Flo’s whenever I’m in Treasure Cay.

    • Dawn says:

      Yum! It’s always fun to see how different places do it, although – unlike other Bahamian dishes – the style for tuna and grits seems fairly universal. Thanks for your comment, Chris!

  • bahamasdread says:

    I love tuna and grits. I can eat this about two to three times a week, because its so easy to prepare and taste great.

    • Dawn says:

      Fabian, I suspected you would be a fan. :) I just got some yellow grits in George Town. They’re in a simple plastic bag with no instructions, so it looks like my next lesson will be cooked yellow grits! Thanks for commenting.

  • Ty says:

    I’ve had booth separately, but never together. Do you add any flavoring to your grits?

    • Dawn says:

      Good to hear from you, Ty. I had eaten both separately before also – it’s an entirely different experience to put them together! For this dish, no, no additional flavoring to the grits. Since each forkful includes tuna salad with the grits, that’s where the flavor comes from. Mmmm, hungry again…

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