Quesadilla de Atun- A Mexican Tuna Melt

Every year we celebrate Christmas and New Years in Los Cabos, Baja California.  My uncle and aunt moved here when they were recently married, and we have all been coming out to visit them for so long, that now it is like a second home to me.  I really love being here.  Even though there is a lot to do, the best moments are when the whole family is together and we just do nothing.

Tuna and marlin are big here in Cabo, and many people visit the peninsula just for the sport fishing that is available. There are also amazing bass, clams, scallops, and abalone.  As you can tell, it is all about fish here.  While we are here, we usually just stick to fish tacos from Tacos Rossi, homemade ceviche, and sushi.  The sushi here is the best that I have ever had.  The Mexican ingredients (cilantro, chile, avocado, mango), combined with the freshness of the fish, compliment the Japanese technique perfectly.

Tuna Melt - Mexican Style

Tuna Melt a lo Mexicano

On a recent fishing trip this past Fall, my uncle caught 23 tuna with a friend who was visiting.  They ate the fresh tuna for a week straight and froze the rest for the Winter.  So yesterday for lunch my aunt made a fresh tuna salad in which she boiled the tuna in water and then mixed it with onion, celery, salt, pepper, and little bit of mayonnaise.  The result was delicious- no canned tuna can compare to the real deal.  We had a big tub of this tuna salad in our fridge, and there was no way I was going to leave the house for lunch today.  I forgot to mention along the way that I am a tuna freak.  I decided to make a Mexican-style tuna melt.  I don’t usually eat tuna melts in the States, because I am very picky about how my tuna salad is prepared, and I dislike greasy sandwiches.  But today I obviously found myself in a very unique situation.  We had freshly made flour tortillas in the fridge (Mexico rocks) and cheese galore, and I knew that nothing could go wrong.   So I heated up a tortilla in a pan and put a few pieces of thinly sliced Manchego cheese on top.  Mexican manchego is different than the manchego from Spain, as it is much milder and easier to melt.  I kept the heat low, so that the tortilla would not become hard, but that the cheese would melt.   Then I spooned on the tuna salad, and finally added thinly sliced tomatoes and a little bit of avocado to top it off.

My parents and sister were not going to eat lunch at home, they were going to get fish tacos from Rossi.  But right as I was putting everything away they arrived at the house hungry.  I made the tuna quesadillas for everyone, and they all had 2.  My dad said it was better than a fish taco, and even said that I should sell them!  He is my biggest fan.  I wanted to post this, because you can all poach your own fresh tuna at home and make this same thing, or you can use canned tuna and make your own tuna salad.  The point is that it is a fun Mexican riff on an American classic.  I would be curious to know what types of cheeses people use for these, and what other things they think go well in them.

!Buen Provecho!


Cabbage, Kohlrabi, and Carrot Salad

You might not think that this salad is Mexican, but I had something similar at a Mexican restaurant the other night and was inspired to post it.  Actually, the more that I think about it, the less Mexican it seems.  Here goes nothing. . .

This past Summer in Oregon, we visited an organic farm on the coast.  The farmer there told us that she ate kohlrabi cut in a julienne on her tacos, as if it were jicama.  That idea seemed genius to me.  The other night my friend and I went for dinner to a Mexican restaurant here in the city.  I ordered a side dish made with raw sliced cabbage, jicama, and cucumber tossed with sesame oil and toasted pumpkin seeds. We couldn’t get over how delicious it was, and I really wanted to post a salad like that on this blog.  I wanted to use kohlrabi instead of jicama, because it is a local vegetable with a similar texture and flavor.  They are both crispy and refreshing.  I decided to steam the cabbage for my version, because I love the dreamy color of purple cabbage when it is cooked.

Cabbage, Kohlrabi, and Carrot Salad

You do not really need to measure much.  I peeled 1 large carrot, 1 bulb of kohlrabi, and removed the outer layers of the purple cabbage.  I only used half the cabbage head and saved the rest for later.  I sliced the cabbage very thinly, and then grated the carrot and kohlrabi with a cheese grater.  I steamed everything lightly together and seasoned it with salt and pepper.  I then transferred them to a large bowl, where I tossed them with apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and walnut oil (you can use olive oil or sesame oil).  I then added a couple tablespoons of toasted pumpkin seeds. This is a simple side dish that is light, but appropriate for Winter. It makes a large quantity, which is enough for 4 people, and maybe more than that.  It is always nice to have a bit leftover for lunch the next day.