Posted by: Erica Retrochef | January 6, 2014

Creamed Tuna

It’s odd — when I see sun coming in the window such as in this advertisement, it makes me think of morning. And so I’d assume that this mid-century housewife is serving pancakes, or bacon and eggs, or something breakfasty to her super-excited spouse here.

But she’s apparently serving him some…

Creamed Tuna

1/2 cup Carnation Evaporated Milk, diluted with 1/2 cup water
1 tabsp. butter
1 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup (7-oz. can) tuna

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and salt; cook 1 minute; remove from heat and add 1/4 cup milk; blend carefully until smooth. Add remaining milk and return to heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens. Add tuna and serve immediately over toast slices or browned noodles. Garnish with pimiento or sliced olives, if desired. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


At least it’s simple. Two cans, butter, and flour.


Remember the roux failure of Chicken Hallite? We’re using a frying pan.


And this roux is working.


It actually could have been a little bit hotter, I think, because it took a bit of time to really thicken after I added the milk; I’ve made some sauces in the past that tightened up right away. That reluctance to thicken led me to avoid adding the additional water the recipe called for (equal to the volume of evaporated milk) — I didn’t think the sauce would be able to handle it.


Whether it’s the frying pan or the lack of extra liquid, it did get nice and thick.


We’ve got the “creamy,” so let’s get crazy and toss some tuna in there. Whee!


Finally, we browned some noodles. Having no idea what this would entail, exactly, we just fried the cooked pasta in some butter. It got kinda brown I guess?


And with some sliced olives on top, we’re ready to eat.

I liked this. The main reason I did like it, of course, was because I added more salt and some dill (after tasting the recipe-generated version and going “ghack, that is bland”), which the recipe didn’t call for. AND, I added only half as much liquid (no extra water). So, even though I started this paragraph intending to proclaim how delicious creamed tuna is, I’m starting to realize that it isn’t Carnation’s fault that this was delicious. I had to tweak it twice, which is a lot for such a simple recipe. I guess it’s an ambivalent result: I make delicious Creamed Tuna, but Carnation makes “meh” Creamed Tuna… at least it was “Quick’n Easy,” though!

(PS: the olives were better than just decoration, they added a nice zing to the dish and complemented the creamed fish well! Don’t leave ’em out!)

I got this from Hey, My Mom Used To Make That, and even though my mom couldn’t have successfully made a roux, she would have loved this dish. TUNA, y’all.


  1. This is too much like Tuna Cheese Macaroni Loaf.
    I feel a little queasy.

  2. The sun shining through the window would seem to indicate it’s summer, when days are longer (“Super Summer Supper”) into the evening. This actually looks good, not unlike a form of tuna casserole, and probably can be tweaked even more by talented cooks.

  3. Oh, our variation of this was a newlywed staple (with added seasonings – indeed, how can people cook without spices?!) – we now call it “Goop Over Rice” and make it only rarely when everyone is in a hurry. It is indeed quick.

    I also think no one can really tell you how much liquid to add when you’re basing your recipe on a roux – it’s just One Of Those Things, you have to wing it.

  4. The husband’s hand gesture suddenly reminds me of Ian Holm from Big Night, when he’s teaching Allison Janney how to be emotive.

  5. Creamed tuna was a standard Friday night supper for this Catholic from New England! Mom just used regular milk though and always added peas, which I hated! I got mine before the peas! Thanks for sharing!

    • I mentioned this to a friend, and she said the most horrible thing she ever ate was her mom’s creamed tuna with canned peas over RICE. (we had tuna sandwiches and cream of mushroom soup on fridays, no peas.) Didn’t the Italians make creamed cod? Dried salted codfish in little wooden boxes, soaked before cooking? Never had that, but it sounds like the above recipe is a descendent of creamed codfish.

  6. The poor husband looks too elated. I bet he’s had three martinis & is saying, “Oh, is it? Could it be more CREAMED TUNA! OHI LOVE CREAMED TUNA — AT LEAST YOU THINK I DO!”

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