Tuna Barbecue

Posted on Apr 13 2011 - 5:59am by RetroRuth

Over The Coals002Welcome to this week’s Mid-Century Menu! This week we are trying Tuna Barbecue, a strange recipe that comes from Fish and Shellfish Over The Coals, which was published by National Marine Fishery Service in 1977.

This cute little book contains basically what the title promises, grilling recipes for fish and shellfish. This tuna recipe was originally formulated to be made on the grill (as you can see in the colorful photo below) but I thought it was a bit too much trouble to fire up the grill to grill something in a pot, so I just decided to make it on the stove and toast the buns in the toaster.

I know, that violates the rules a little, but it was cold and I was hungry.

Not much else to say about this recipe. It’s basically tuna sloppy joes.


Canned tuna.

Worcestershire sauce.

I am a little scared. 

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But I must say that is a snazzy oven mitt!

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You know, it is going to be the dash of pepper that makes this dish, you just wait and see.


I had to get my jumbo bottle of vinegar out for this one.  It just felt like the right thing to do.


This is onions cooking in canned tuna oil. It smelled fishy. And I mean that literally.  It STANK like fish.


All the ingredients thrown on top of each other.

Except for the tuna and rolls.  See how well I follow directions?


The sauce, simmering away.


Wow, done already. And I didn’t even have to distract you guys with a story or anything.  Ahhh…the magic of forgetting to take a picture in the middle of cooking. But don’t worry, you didn’t miss much. Only cats begging to get tuna, and getting catnip instead.


Wait…no…there it is.

And now your experience is complete.  


Maybe a little better now. But not much. 

It is a pretty ugly sandwich. But sloppy joes aren’t known for their looks.

And now, Tom eating this ugly little sandwich.






“Okay, I give up. What’s in this thing?”

All the stuff for sloppy joes, plus green pepper and celery.”


“Oh, and then canned tuna.”


“What do you think?”


“It tastes like sloppy joes. Except…weird.”

I took a bite, then coughed, gagging a little. “You can totally taste the tuna.”


The Verdict: Fishy. Tom didn’t think they were that bad, but I didn’t like them. But I am not a big fan of things that taste like fish. Maybe if I would have used a nice can of white albacore like they did in the recipe, it wouldn’t have been so bad. But since I bought the cheapest big can of tuna in oil I could get, I guess I deserve that taste. Otherwise, they just tasted like sloppy joes. Nothing too crazy, which was a relief. Are we going to eat the leftovers? Yes. Am I going to make this again? Heck, no.






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I love everything retro, vintage, mid-century, kitsch and all things atomic! A 21st century housewife just trying to fit in...to the 50's. I have a passion for vintage recipes and an enormous vintage cookbook collection that I keep testing, even though by now I should know better. Creator of Mid-Century Menu (www.midcenturymenu.com), No Pattern Required (www.nopatternrequired.com), and I Ate The 80's (www.iatethe80s.com).

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10 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Barbara April 13, 2011 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    I always wonder why you make recipes of things you don’t like to eat. Is there a pattern to your madness?

    • RetroRuth April 13, 2011 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      Yeah, I don’t think there is a pattern at all. Just the madness. 🙂

  2. mub April 13, 2011 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    I think I’m going to have to try this one… I like making fish sloppy joes with tilapia but canned tuna would be way easier.

    • RetroRuth April 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Mub – make sure you use good tuna!!! 🙂

  3. Lorie B. April 13, 2011 at 4:16 pm - Reply

    Bleugh! I am so not crazy about tuna. And tuna with ketchup in any form just sounds nasty beyond belief to me. I bet that would make a nice prok BBQ, however. LOL Let us know if the leftovers were any better, haha.

  4. Sara In AZ April 13, 2011 at 4:29 pm - Reply

    Oh darn, and I totally thought that pepper was going to make the dish spectacular!

    Fishy sloppy joes = bee-zarro girl!!! 🙂

  5. Meeem April 13, 2011 at 6:07 pm - Reply

    Yes, these just get better and better. Still, my favorite is the crazy horseradish meatloaf.
    Can’t wait for Easter surprises!!!

  6. Kim Campbell April 13, 2011 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    Wow! I really wish I could do this with my husband and have him actually TASTE it.

    I love these! Keep up the good work!

  7. Andrea April 14, 2011 at 11:18 am - Reply

    I’m with Lorie B – tuna and ketchup sound like a baaaaad combo!

    However, what’s in the picture from the book with the tuna? Are those crab cakes? Those look really good!

    I also like how Tom appears to be giving a sideways thumb in one of the pics – as though he can’t decide to give it a thumbs up or down, hee!

  8. Brie April 14, 2011 at 11:40 am - Reply

    I gagged when I read this. I’m all for tuna but don’t like sloppy joes. FISHY JOES!? I love the mid century menu so much!

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