Beverly Cooks! : Tuna Fish Loaf

Written by: Griffin Nordstrom

May 31, 2023 12:44 pm
Category: ,

In our role as a Heritage Center, we aim to not only use traditional history documentation with artifacts and info panels, but provide a living understanding of the community and present the stories of Beverly and Randolph County in alternative methods. As a part of these efforts I will be conducting a mini foodways series using recipes sourced from Beverly’s community. With all this, I want to acknowledge that I am not an experienced cook, and have chosen recipes that require amateur understanding of technique and tools. There are many more complex dishes in this community that better chefs could surely recreate!

-Griffin Nordstrom, ‘Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area’ Americorps member 2022-2023 cohort

I’ll be starting with a 1950 Tuna Fish Loaf recipe by Mrs. Creighton O. Weave, published in the 1950 Beverly Presbyterian Church cookbook, and republished in the 1988 edition. I will include the recipe here at the top, then share some pictures and my experiences with it! I chose the recipe because the name of it sounded like a pretty dreadful concoction, but the church group had decided to bring it back for the 1988 cookbook, so maybe it wasn’t that bad?


1 Can tuna, 4 tbsp butter, 1 egg, 1 tbsp onion (finely minced), salt and pepper, fine bread crumbs


combine ingredients, put in buttered mold, bake for 20 minutes in moderate oven


The recipe is a bit vague. I’ll note that ‘moderate oven’ is somewhere between 350-375 degrees fahrenheit, you only need a little bit of salt and pepper, and I’m unsure the exact amount of breadcrumbs you’ll need, but it’ll need to be enough to even out the wetness of the tuna and egg to a meatloaf-like consistency (effectively what we’re making). Make sure to get a tuna can with vegetable oil, and drain out the liquid before adding to the mix. The recipe creates a block about 5 x 3 x 2 inches, so if for a larger group, I’d consider doubling or tripling the recipe, I personally chose to double the recipe as the ingredients are fairly cheap.

It’s definitely important to handmix; I had room-temperature softened butter and still saw small chunks that I had to squish out to make blend. I mixed everything excluding the breadcrumbs together then added the breadcrumbs in portion. Like I said prior, the end goal is a meatloaf-like consistency, pasty but stays together, a little less solid than dough. I sprayed instead of buttering my pans, and had no issues there, and the mix easily filled the molds. Bake as directed, and after cooling a bit, they were super easy to remove from the pan! I was recommended to put together a cream topping mixing about 2/3 mayo to 1/3 mustard or ketchup, but didn’t want to buy mayo that would otherwise go unused. I would say these need some sort of topper/glaze, as otherwise they look like somewhat dried out cat food mounds.

I took the dish to an art show opening where it was, to my surprise, a big hit! People genuinely liked the flavor of it, especially when combined with a triscuit and gouda cheese. The only criticism was how visually unappealing they are, which is certainly fair. For a party, I’d say only a single batch is needed and it can be brought out as an appetizer with cheese and crackers. I didn’t like it, but I don’t like tuna, so that makes sense.