Sesame Ginger Tuna Salad
I have never been a fan of canned tuna. Ever. I grew up in the 70s and am still haunted by memories of tuna casserole, sauced with cream-of-something soup and laden with squishy green peas. Blech. No fault of my mom; hers was fine as these things go, but it’s not a meal I remember fondly. That being said, tuna casserole certainly ranked higher for me than tuna salad, a concoction I studiously avoided. Mayonnaise, relish, and tuna crammed into white bread? Hard pass.
But I recently began rethinking tuna. I was talking with a co-worker of mine about supper ideas–a common topic of discussion between us–and she described her tuna salad, noting that she loads it with vegetables and finds it filling without being heavy. As someone in need of new sources of lean protein, I decided to push my anti-tuna prejudices aside and try again, but with a modernized version that skipped the mayo and relish.
I found inspiration in a bottled sesame vinaigrette that I quite enjoy. From there, I decided to go in the direction of deconstructed sushi, adding to the tuna some finely chopped cucumber and red pepper, cubed avocado, and a topping of shredded seaweed snacks and toasted black and white sesame seeds. I tossed in enough dressing to mask the taste of tuna, which I have to admit I still don’t love. It was good but I felt like something was missing. Enter pickled ginger–the traditional sushi garnish–which cuts the sweetness of the vinaigrette and adds a pleasant, tangy flavour.
Use the same basic recipe with cooked rice noodles for a cold noodle salad, or swap in some tofu in place of the tuna for a vegan meal. Serve on whatever carb you like–rice, multigrain bread or crackers.
Sesame Ginger Tuna Salad
- 1 170-mL can of light tuna, preferably packed in water
- English cucumber, finely chopped
- red sweet pepper, finely chopped
- avocado, cubed
- pickled ginger, sliced See Notes, below.
- 1-2 tbsp sesame ginger vinaigrette, bottled or homemade See Notes, below.
- packaged seaweed snacks, torn into small pieces See Notes, below.
- toasted sesame seeds, black and white See Notes, below.
- Open tuna and drain. Add to a medium mixing bowl then flake with a fork.
- Add cucumber, pepper, avocado, and pickled ginger to bowl.
- Start with 1 tbsp of vinaigrette. Drizzle it over the salad then toss gently to combine. Taste and add more vinaigrette, if desired, then toss again.
- Top with seaweed snacks and lots of toasted sesame seeds. Serve in a pita, on toast, in a bun, over rice, with crackers, or whatever "base" you like.
- Pickled ginger is sold in most major grocery stores. Check the sushi counter, if your store has one, or the Asian food aisle. A little goes a long way, so start small then add more, as desired.
- There are many recipes online for sesame ginger vinaigrette if you prefer to make your own. I buy the Toasted Sesame Vinaigrette by President's Choice.
- Seaweed snacks are small sheets of roasted seaweed that have been oiled and salted. They are often sold in packages of three, like this package from T&T, and are typically found in the snack aisle or Asian food aisle. They tend to be both oily and salty, given their ingredients, so go slow when adding them. You can always add more if you find you want more of their flavour.
- As with the pickled ginger, bottles of toasted sesame seeds can often be found at grocery store sushi counters or in the Asian food aisle. You can typically find white and black individually, or a bottle that combines the two. You don't absolutely need both, but I like the colour variety they offer.