Tuna paste really doesn’t have a romantic ring to it, does it? I guess I could call it tuna spread, but it’ll always be tuna paste to me.
I have fond memories of when this tuna spread and I were first introduced. J and I were enjoying a wonderful vacation in Southern Portugal, when we decided to pop into a Brazilian restaurant for dinner. Don’t ask me why we wanted to eat at a Brazilian restaurant when we’re in the Algarve, but I blame it to the fact we had been there 2+ weeks and had gotten a little bored of the local fare.
We had a few appetizers to enjoy whilst pondering over their menu. One of these appetizers was this tuna spread (patê de atum). I shunned it at first, because all tuna-type salad/spreads usually have a mayonnaise base. I detest mayonnaise, I really do – and in Europe it’s far more acidic than its American counterpart – ugh!
J tried it, and made the comment that it didn’t have the slightest sour note to it. I was intrigued, how can something that looks like tuna salad not taste slightly acidic? Could it be that the base was NOT mayonnaise? I must have been a picture to watch, as I picked up to dish to sniff, then I proceeded to dip the corner of my knife into it and tentatively tasted it. There was so little on my knife I couldn’t taste it, so I repeated my actions with a bigger sampling… this time I could taste it. It was indeed, not sour, but a creamy, dreamy and delightful spread.
When we got home, I tried a couple of times to get the recipe right. It boiled down to the basic ingredients being cream-cheese, tuna, spring onions (green onions) and seasoning. Although the authentic way of making Brazilian tuna spread, patê de atum uses a mayonnaise base with no sign of cream cheese or spring/green onions. This recipe is the closest that I’ve created to what we tasted, in that very restaurant in 2002.
If you have a dairy-free diet, the recipe also works with dairy-free cream-cheese alternative – I like to use Vegan Gourmet.
- 227 g (8 oz) cream-cheese or cream-cheese alternative
- 185g (6 ½ oz) can of tuna chunks in spring water, drained
- 3-4 spring onions (green onions), sliced finely on a diagonal bias
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Soften the cream-cheese in a medium sized bowl with a spatula.
2. Add the tuna and spring onions, mix well to incorporate all of the ingredients, then season to taste Spread thickly on a toasted bagel or serve with crackers, bread or salad. Enjoy!