My first recipe of the Solomon Islands, Chili Taiyo, comes to us courtesy of the charming blog Stilettos in the Solomons. It’s a very interesting read on the author’s experience in living on the island for a year as a volunteer.
I’m not sure how authentic this dish really is, but what IS authentic is the use of canned tuna. Little known fact- the Solomon Islands is a major exporter of canned tuna. Who knew?!
The ingredients for this are simple and unconventional. You may be looking at the list and the “before” picture below and be thinking: “No way. That looks like that nasty canned corned beef thing you made a few weeks ago. PASS!”
Before you breeze through quickly, I will explain why I was confident that this dish would taste delicious once I got to the “after.” You see, Lettuce has a very similar version to this, a dish that we simply call “Tuna Pasta.”
When we were back in law school, Lettuce would always tell me about her “go-to” dinner of canned tuna, tomatoes and pasta. I always thought this sounded gross…until I had it. What I didn’t take into account is that the tuna is actually cooked to the point that it’s crispy, so it’s not your “soggy” tuna salad tuna. It’s crispy, flavorful and the PERFECT accompaniment to some noodles. With tuna pasta in mind, I was sure this would be delicious. And it was, so much so that I’ve marked it as a favorite, and tastes almost like something you’d get at your favorite Asian takeaway. I will definitely be making this again. Maybe even this week. No more ice cream! (Well, for dinner at least.)
One note on the noodles. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed if you’ve been following me the past 9 months (whoa!), but throughout this blog, I’ve made pasta maybe twice. Reason being I’m not a fan of pasta. It’s too heavy for my tummy in general, and DEFINITELY too heavy for me this time of the year. Therefore, I often substitute Shirataki noodles or spaghetti squash. However, for authenticity, if you choose to recreate this dish (which you should!), use either linguini or Chinese noodles.
- 1 can vegetable oil packed tuna fish
- 2 tsp red chili paste
- ½ white onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 6-8 basil leaves, cut into ribbons
- 1 bag of Tofu Shirataki (or enough noodles for two people…2 ounces?), boiled, cooked and ready to go
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Red chili flakes to garnish
- Juice of one lime
- To a sauté pan, add a pinch of vegetable or coconut oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until a bit soft, about three minutes.
- Add the tuna and chili paste. Mix well and spread out in the pan, pressing the mixture down evenly around the pan.
- Leave it alone! Let the tuna crisp up. After the first 15 minutes, give it a stir, and then stir it at 10 minutes intervals until tuna gets desired crispiness, about 25 minutes total.
- Once the tuna is ready, add the noodles, lime juice and basil and give it a quick toss to crispy up the noodles and incorporate all the ingredients. Serve with extra chilis (or crushed peanuts! I didn’t think of that until now, but that’d be really good!).
- You can add more or less chili paste to taste.
**If you want to try Lettuce’s variation, omit the chili paste and lime juice and add 1/2 can of diced tomatoes. Repeat the process, add a bit more garlic if you desire with some Parmesan cheese. Delish!**