Poor man’s crayfish (sometimes called poor man’s lobster) is a simple starter, made with a can of tuna mixed with a tangy Marie Rose sauce. I normally prepare it the day before and leave it overnight in the refrigerator so the flavours have time to develop. Serve it on a bed of lettuce for a deliciously light appetiser that will really get the taste buds going.
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Poor man’s crayfish
I was chatting to my daughter the other day about the starter we would serve on Christmas Day, and she said ‘well, why not make poor man’s crayfish?‘
It must be all of twenty years since I last made this recipe, and to be perfectly honest, I’d entirely forgotten about it. It’s one of those recipes you seem to make all the time because you can use it in so many different ways, but then you stop making it for some reason.
I don’t know why that should be. Perhaps it’s because it is so simple to make and you tend to get caught up in making fancier recipes. I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m so glad she reminded me of it!
It’s made with a can of tuna and a finely chopped onion mixed with tomato ketchup and mayonnaise and given a bit of zing with the addition of Tabasco sauce. Seriously – 5 ingredients and 5 minutes of prep time and you’re done.
All you have to do next is arrange it on a bed of lettuce in a little glass bowl, and garnish with cherry tomatoes, and optionally a few small shrimps.
And it tastes amazing! It has a kind of fishy flavour, but not overpoweringly so. It’s also creamy, thanks to the mayonnaise, and it has a slight crunch from the onion and a hint of heat from the Tabasco sauce. Combine all these flavours and textures and you have the most delicious starter that everyone seems to love.
It’s reminiscent of the famous 70’s prawn cocktail, but at a much lower cost!
A truly versatile recipe
What I love about this poor man’s crayfish recipe is how versatile it is.
Yes, we used to make it as a starter, but we also used this recipe in other dishes:
- Double the mayonnaise and tomato ketchup and you have a fantastic seafood dip for crisps, crudites or whatever other snack-type foods you happen to have on your buffet table.
- Puree the tuna mayonnaise mixture with a stick-blender and serve with crispbread for a fantastic pate-with-a-difference.
- Spread any leftovers between two slices of bread and pop it in your snackwich for a light toasted lunch.
- Mix in an egg and 2 tablespoons of self-raising flour. Fry spoonfuls hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown, for instant fishcakes.
- Use it as a sandwich filling for your lunchbox.
Let me show you how easy it is to make.
What you will need
You will need a mixing bowl to mix it all together. I like this set because they have lids so you can easily cover the bowl while it is resting in the refrigerator.
**You can find the full list of ingredients and complete instructions for making poor man’s crayfish on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
This recipe will make enough for 4 starters. You can easily make more by just doubling the ingredients.
Tuna in brine – it must be tuna in brine, not oil, and you should drain the brine away before using. For 4 people you will need a 160-gram (or 5.5 ounces) can of tuna.
Onion – this should be very finely chopped. You will need about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped onion per small can of tuna. You could use shallots if you prefer.
Mayonnaise – use your favourite brand, or make your own. See this recipe for homemade mayonnaise if you’d like to make it yourself.
Tomato ketchup – you will need half as much ketchup as mayonnaise.
Tabasco sauce – just a few drops – this is a very hot sauce. If you are doubling the recipe be aware that you may not need to double the tabasco. You can substitute the tabasco with sriracha sauce if that’s what you have in your cupboard.
I haven’t included any garnish ingredients in the photo, but you may like to top your poor man’s crayfish with a mixture of these before serving:
- Halved cherry tomatoes
- Mini shrimps
- Slice of lemon
- And of course, don’t forget a bed of lettuce to serve it all on.
What to do
Just a few simple steps.
Drain the can of tuna and discard the liquid. Peel the onion and chop it very finely.
Place all the ingredients into a mixing bowl.
When adding the Tabasco sauce, add a few drops at a time and taste before adding more.
Mix the ingredients thoroughly to combine.
Cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and leave it overnight in the refrigerator for the flavours to develop.
When you are ready to serve, arrange chopped lettuce into serving dishes and spoon in the tuna mixture. Garnish with chopped cherry tomatoes and optionally a few mini shrimps. Top with a pinch of paprika.
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Poor man’s crayfish FAQ
No, poor man’s crayfish is not suitable for freezing.
Absolutely, in fact, I recommend you mix the poor man’s crayfish the day before you want to serve it, and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
If you are not a lover of onion, you could try mixing a finely chopped hard-boiled egg with the tuna and mayonnaise mixture.
Save for later
If you would like to make this tasty appetiser yourself, why not save the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily. Just click on the image below.
Alternatively, you can save the recipe by clicking on the floating heart icon on the right-hand side of the screen.
If you enjoyed this poor man’s crayfish recipe, you may like to try some of my other easy appetiser recipes:
- Mushroom pate – a tasty pate made with mushrooms. Perfect for spreading on crackers or crusty bread.
- Chicken liver pate – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a bowl of homemade chicken liver pate to enjoy.
- Prawn and scallop au gratin – juicy prawns and tender scallops in a brandy-flavoured Diane sauce with a cheesy topping.
- Peri-peri chicken livers – tasty and warming, these creamy chicken livers in a spicy peri-peri sauce make a great winter appetiser.
- Thai salmon fishcakes – if you are looking for a spicy starter, one or two of these salmon fishcakes served with a spicy dipping sauce are amazing.
Poor man’s crayfish
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- Mixing bowl with lid
- 5.5 ounces / 160 gram can tuna in brine
- 1 small onion or shallot finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
- ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce to your own taste
- Lettuce shredded
- 2 tablespoons mini shrimp
- 6 – 8 cherry tomatoes halved
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Lemon slices
- Drain the tuna and discard the liquid.5.5 ounces / 160 gram can tuna in brine
- Peel the onion or shallot and chop finely. You will need approximately 2 tablespoons chopped onion.1 small onion or shallot
- Place the drained tuna and chopped onion into a mixing bowl along with the mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and Tabasco sauce.2 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup, ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- Mix well to combine and then cover with a lid or plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavours develop.
- Serve on a bed of lettuce and optionally add garnishes to your own taste.Lettuce, 2 tablespoons mini shrimp, 6 – 8 cherry tomatoes, ½ teaspoon paprika, Lemon slices
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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