The tuna dish.

wives waiting for their men at Scheveningen

wives waiting for their men at Scheveningen

We all know that fish is good. As we get older and start to stumble with memories and forget the name of a previous world champion runner or a failed Prime minister, it is time to call in the fishing fleet. As a child I used to watch this fleet coming in with the first herring which would be rushed and presented to the Dutch queen. Those first herrings used to cost a fortune. Our family would wait for the price to fall before able to buy them. The fishermen’s wives were waiting anxiously  at the peers for the boats to come in.

I was at the tail end of the herring fleet still being under sails. I might have been nine years or so. It wasn’t always that the boats would come back. It was a risky business and storms on the North Sea were frequent and dangerous. Many a husband would be lost. In those days the women waiting at the peer still wore traditional clothing, dark brown billowing skirts down to the ankle, and white head- gear. Perhaps they also wore a lacy scarf around their shoulders. It was all so long ago.

Now-a-days, fishing vessels are so large and so sophisticated they graze the ocean floor like never before. The whole area would be covered in miles of netting more or less depleting everything that swam. I remember two years ago a huge Dutch factory boat tried to enter Australian waters to fish. The local protesting fishermen were successful in fighting for their own rights to fish. The Dutch ship retreated and lost their case. Why has everything become so unromantic? I know losing your life while fishing isn’t romantic but so much of the past made and held memories. What memories will our grandchildren nurture in their old age? Perhaps in the future the Alzheimer will be cured by simply living along life’s path without anything remarkable to imprint on our memory’s storage. Memories will simply not be there anymore to lose!

Here is a dish to remember though. It is simple, cheap, healthy and guaranteed to refresh memories of failed Prime ministers and long time champions including Zátopek.

Its ingredients are potatoes, a good leek, onions, garlic, milk, herbs, a bit of butter, a bunch of bok-choy, tinned tuna in oil and little salt, pepper and chili. Also, young grated cheese.



Simply slice thinly a few potatoes and in layers interspersed with all the above sliced ingredient, place in a oven-proof ceramic dish. Soak the whole lot in milk level with the top of the dish and bake for an hour or so at 150C temperature. Make sure you are generous with the grated cheese on top to make sure this is brown and crusty. You then eat it with your spouse without saying a single word, except at times, just say mmm and again mmm.

I do hope my grandkids will remember my pancakes made with buttermilk.

We will all be lucky to get out alive.


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16 Responses to “The tuna dish.”

  1. Dorothy brett Says:

    Your friends remember your pancakes all golden and slightly browned and crispy edges. But I candy wait to try the recipe you have given, sounds wonderful.
    Perhaps an MAMC is due. Mature Aged Master Class .another cooking show.


  2. Curt Mekemson Says:

    Yeah, we won’t get out alive, Gerard, but we can do our damnedest to go kicking and screaming. My son, BTW, flies helicopters for the US Coast Guard of of Kodiak, Alaska, frequently helping fishermen escape from sinking boats in treacherous seas. Fishing can still be one of the most dangerous professions in the world, at least in Alaska. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Fishing is dangerous. I remember going out of Sydney harbour on a twelve feet Brooker and a huge container boat coming towards me. I quickly started the engine and at a 90 degree angle escaped just in time. Foolish really. What if the engine could not be started or if the pull-rope snapped?

      I buy fish now but don’t catch them anymore.


  3. rod Says:

    I have many photographs of fishing boats of the old time, primarily herring boats, but even when young hardly saw any. These new boats that rake the ocean floor have to be stopped. The damage they are doing is not acceptable.
    I’m sure Pope Francis would be with me on this one!


  4. nonsmokingladybug Says:

    Hering..oh my God I miss it. Once in a while I get one in the local fish market, but not too often. Never understood why it’s not popular here.


  5. stuartbramhall Says:

    Consumer Reports is warning people against mercury contamination in tuna:

    Would it be possible to substitute mackerel?

    Because mackerel is a smaller fish it doesn’t concentrate so much mercury (big fish tends to concentrate heavy metals because they consumer so many smaller fish).


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, I have read that too. I suppose any smaller fish can be put in the potato-leek bake. We do eat sardines and of course the herrings. It’s a funny thing though. I used to be a painting contractor and removing old paint that contained lead was fairly common. Most primers contained lead till well in the seventies before lead suspended in paints was banned.. In my late sixties I had a specific blood test done thinking lead levels in my blood would be higher than normal. It wasn’t the case though.


  6. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    What a great memory and a great recipe. I will try that one soon. We used to get our fish from the Pike St. Market in Seattle when the fishermen brought them in. That is, when we didn’t catch them ourselves. We mostly fished for salmon or halibut in Alaska. It’s a great thrill to haul in a 30# white King salmon on light line.


  7. Master of Something Yet Says:

    Thank you for the recipe. I have an oversupply of bok choy from our weekly fruit and veg box and as the Middle Son has just returned from Japan, stir fry (with rice) is out of the question. (He’s a bit riced out.)
    When we were children, we used to holiday at a coastal town and my brother and I would rise before dawn and go down to the pier to watch the fishermen come in. I don’t know if you can still do that as the town has gone from sleepy fishing village to trendy vacation spot for beautiful wealthy people like so many other coastal towns.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    I’ve just written the recipe down. I’m definitely going to make this.


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