When kids are little, sometimes you have to be inventive to feed them right. I don’t have to tell you how children demand the same pizza or hot dogs day in and day out and refuse to look at anything else. My son was no exception, only his thing was hamburgers. To be fair, it was a very brief passing stage when we first came to the United States. He was seven, and up to this point, I had considered myself very lucky; I’ve never had any food problems with him. He had always happily cleaned up his plate. Until we came to the land of hamburgers, that is. Suddenly, nothing else would do, but it had to be a hamburger, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But us moms have our ways! Anything presented to him stuck in a bun with bits of lettuce and a slice of tomato was a hamburger. So we had chicken hamburgers, liver hamburgers, and – here we go! – fish hamburgers. And let me tell you, it’s the easiest dinner you can put together in 10 minutes, and it’s healthy, nutritious, and filling.
The most important part of this entire process is a good can opener. You take some tuna in water, drain it well to squeeze most of the water out of it, and mash it up. Mix it with finely ground white corn meal, a couple of eggs, and fresh chopped parsley. If you can’t find white finely ground corn meal, just pulverize some plain conflakes in a food processor. It’ll work!
The secret is in seasoning. In addition to salt and pepper, I add some wasabi powder. Yes, that green stuff that you get with your sushi, the one that looks like playdough and brings tears to your eyes if you put too much of it in your soy sauce. Occasionally, I make sushi, so I always have wasabi powder around, to complement it with the paste that looks like playdough.
Wasabi is Japanese horseradish, and it is extremely hot, so a pinch is usually enough. If you think that some family members or guests might want their tuna cakes a bit spicier, make some paste and serve it separately.
The powder is made the same way we make moror for Pesach, by grating the root, only here it’s done on a very fine grater. But you don’t have to go through all this trouble. The powder is available in most kosher stores, and you can also find it in supermarkets. Just look for a hecksher. To make paste, put about a tablespoon of it in a small bowl and simply add a few drops of water. Keep mixing and adding water, if needed, a few drops at the time, until you reach the desired consistency. Cover or wrap it until you are ready to serve, and wash your hands really well, lest you accidentally touch your own face or that of your child Has v’Sholom. This stuff is hot! However, “some like it hot,” and some like it even hotter, so you can use chili powder or cayenne pepper instead of wasabi. Play with it!
Mix everything up, form patties, either oval or round, like a hamburger, and fry on a frying pan or a griddle until golden brown. Remove, pat excess oil, and serve.
One large can of tuna or three small one with yield about 8 – 9 patties. My husband pops them like cookies, 3 – 4 at a time, but a portion would be two for an adult and one for a child.
- 12 oz tuna in water, drained well
- 1 cup white finely ground corn meal
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Wasabi powder to taste (about a pinch)
- Drain tuna well and break into pieces
- Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well
- Preheat frying pan or griddle to medium temperature and mist with oil
- Fry until golden brown on both sides