I grew up in Northwestern Ontario, where February and March are ice-fishing months (into April in bad years). Before people started using semi-permanent ice shacks for winter fishing, several families would gather on the open ice, often travelling to remote lakes by snowmobile. Of course, there was fishing, but also there was food and fire. The fire was built on the ice, and while it would sink through the day, our ice gets to be several feet thick.
We had every imaginable type of snack food, as well as sausage and cheese, but my favourite was always tuna buns. At home, we would make tuna salad, with onions and pickles, and cheese bits. We’d stuff hamburger buns full of the mixture, and wrap them in a generous sheets of foil wrap.
At the lake, we would place these foil packets around the edge of the fire, where they would heat, melting the cheese, and softening the buns. Nothing ever tasted as good as tuna buns, even though there were often burned edges on the buns.
This grilled tuna sandwich does not have the background of fresh air, stunning landscape or strange customs, like fire on ice, but it does remind me of those wonderful buns.
Make the tuna mixture with your favourite mixture. I still like chopped pickle, onion, mayonnaise (I always substitute about 1/3 to 1/2 sour cream) and chopped cheddar cheese. You want a moist mixture. If I have good pickles, I’ll often put a teaspoon of pickle juice in the mixture, or even a splash of milk.
Spread the mixture on your favourite bread. I like a light rye, but white or whole wheat would work well. A lighter bread is best for grilled sandwiches. Heavy, grainy breads are not at their best when grilled. I don’t use any butter or oil for this sandwich on a George Foreman grill, as here is plenty of moisture in the filling. If you are using a skillet, you may need to add a bit of oil or butter, spread on the outside of the bread, or added to the pan.
If you need just one sandwich, use half a can of tuna to make this recipe, and see how to store extra tuna for a day or two.