Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuna Stuffed Jalapenos

As I have mentioned before, we cruised from San Diego, CA, to the Panama Canal and then through it on our sailboat, Cadenza. During those 18 months, we captured many wonderful memories both in the camera and in our hearts.

Such is the case with Tuna Stuffed Jalapenos!

When we were stuck in Acapulco for the summer, something you don’t want to experience believe me, we met John. At the time John was a university student planning to be an English teacher. He was also a sailor, as was his dad and his brother. John joined us on Cadenza to learn English, and he helped us sail from Acapulco on down the coast to Panama and beyond.


I was always begging John to bring me some of his mother’s recipes so I could learn to make some of his favorite dishes for him, and for us. He never seemed to be able to remember when he would come back from visiting his mother. But one day when we were in a little tienda (store) in Huatulco, he pointed at a can of pickled jalapenos with a big smile on his face. John said they always reminded him of the parties he and his friends had. They would buy a big can of them, and stuffed the jalapenos with tuna fish. At last! I finally had a recipe to work with, and an easy one at that!

When I told Ken about it he decided we would stuff them with his favorite tuna fish recipe. Ken’s tuna fish recipe is one that he and his daughter, Kim, love, but frankly for a long time I did not. But over the years I’ve learned to love it! So he would make the tuna fish and then we would stand around and stuff the jalapenos.

There’s a saying in the cruising community that you have to have 200 tuna fish recipes because that is the one thing you can get reliably almost anywhere on the coasts. So now we had 201 tuna fish recipes!

But we ran into a real shortage of jalapenos problem once we were out of Mexico! Due to the climate conditions and the different cultures and eating habits of those in Central America, it’s almost impossible to find jalapenos! When we were in Costa Rica we really had a problem! Remember I said that John used to buy the big cans of pickled jalapenos? Well, down there you are lucky if you can find even a 6 oz can of them!

In fact one day I came out of the grocery store with a sad expression on my face. John, who was waiting for me, asked what was wrong. “John, they have no jalapenos! “

“NO jalapenos! “ He exclaimed. “Si John, NO jalapenos!” I emphasized!

“Bloody Hell!” He said in a perfect parody of our English friend Alan. I stood there laughing like a loony, as I realized just what a variety of English John was learning!

In Panama I did actually find fresh jalapenos. It was a bit confusing finding them however! We were staying on a mooring ball at the main marina in Bahia Panama awaiting our turn to go through the canal. On the morning radio net I asked if anyone knew where we could find jalapenos, either fresh or canned as we were completely out!

Someone called back letting us know about a grocery store that she knew carried them. She gave us directions and off we went. When we found the store we were delighted! They did in fact have jalapenos and I was willing to pay the exorbitant price to have them! But it was very confusing to be in a store in the Jewish section of Panama that was owned by a Chinese family! On the counter were Israeli papers in Hebrew, local papers in Spanish, and others in Chinese! I was at a loss as to what language to say ‘Thank you!” in!

Ah, good memories and fun times!

The reason I am writing about this today is all Diane’s fault! She is one of my co-workers and has been bugging me since last year to make her some Tuna Stuffed Jalapenos. I brought them to the International Potluck last year and it was a very popular dish.

Just recently I had discovered that our local Wal-Mart was finally carrying cans of jalapenos and I was telling Diane that. So on the way home I picked up a can of them and started in making them right away.

When I asked my husband to taste the tuna mixture, Ken said it wasn’t right. He’s a good guy but very particular about his tuna fish! So he came downstairs from his office and made it for me. Here is his recipe:

1 can (6 ounce size) white albacore tuna fish (any brand)
6 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
Juice from ¼ lemon
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp celery salt
3 tbsp vinegar
1 pinch dill weed

You have to mix all the ingredients together very carefully.

Watch the video to see how precisely Ken does it.

Once mixed, open a 12 oz can of Green Pickled Jalapenos. These should be whole or halved. I am lucky to find the whole ones so I buy those. If you have the whole ones, cut the jalapenos in half lengthwise. With a small narrow spoon scoop out the seeds and membranes carefully.

Then using the same small spoon or even a pastry bag filled with the tuna mixture, stuff the jalapenos. You can garnish them with hot pickled carrots that usually come in the can with the jalapenos, or put a sliver of pimento on top. Or if you want to be fancy, put some fresh dill or capers.

Arrange on a plate and serve. Be sure to have some good beer, or tequila on hand to go with it!

Salud Diane!


  1. Boy Ken has some serious mixing going on there! Actually tuna with a balsamic does sound really good. I love balsamic and add it to so many things!

  2. Mea culpa! Mea culpa! I meant to say Sandy not Diane! Salud Diane!

  3. Michelle, yes, balsamic really is good with tuna!

  4. thanks for the kind comment on my bread, oh love tuna, wow how was panama what a fun trip it must have been Rebecca