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Tuna Salad

I love, love, love tuna salad but unlike many other recipes I can't seem to make a decent homemade tuna salad. I used to go to a local restaurant/caterer that served the best I've ever had. It had fresh dill in it. What am I doing wrong? Theirs was somewhat dry. I use Duke's mayo and it always seems too creamy. Any suggestions?

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  1. You shouldn't be putting more than a spoonful or two of mayo in. You shouldn't even see it, if you like mayo then just put more on the bread. A good amount of black pepper and a little lemon juice are the other essentials. I have to add celery but my husband could live without it. I sometimes add dill too, but that's as far as I go.

    There are many species of tuna, and that makes a difference. Many caterers use tongol or yellowfin rather than albacore, so experiment with that too.

    7 Replies
    1. re: coll

      +1 - gotta have diced celery and I also like to add some minced onion as well. And sometimes I add some defrosted uncooked peas.

      1. re: boyzoma

        This particular tuna salad seemed to have only tuna, dill, and a small of amount of whatever "dressing" they used, very simple but very delicious. I live in the south and Duke's mayo is the #1 choice for mayo - I suspect they used something else. I can't fathom buying Kraft or Hellmanns but maybe that's the difference!

        1. re: kcfields

          I use Best Foods (which is the West Coast version of Hellmanns).

          1. re: kcfields

            I live in the south too, but am from PA. Duke's has a mild sweetness that Hellmann's doesn't, and it also has a thinner consistency. Personally, I prefer Hellmann's for tuna & chicken salad. I also prefer yellowfin (yes, fresh and cooked medium) for my tuna and depending on the texture you like, you could pulse the tuna a couple times in a food processor for a more even texture.

            Celery is also a must for me.

        2. re: coll

          I typically use the canned tuna in spring water which isn't that great to begin with. Occasionally, I get the premium, filet canned tuna. When you say tongol or yellowfin, are you referring to tuna steaks from the meat dept?

          1. re: kcfields

            No you see it in foodservice, it comes in big cans (66.6 oz I think). Sometimes you see it imported in little cans too, in the grocery. I'm just saying try other species or even just other brands. Hard to go wrong with the filets though.

            Around here no one will admit to using anything but Hellmann's, it really is different than any other mayo. Buy a small jar and give it a try, it's the only way you'll find out. Dress the tuna first with the lemon juice, or use the juice to thin the mayo before mixing. There could be some secret ingredient too, but to me, the plainer the better with tuna.

          2. re: coll

            Albacore (from the can) has no flavor - zippo.

          3. Dunno what recipe you are referencing, but try some of these ideas.

            1. Instead of canned tuna, use fresh tuna steaks. Grill until medum, then cut into chunks.

            2. Try using some plain yogurt in place of mayo

            3. Try some wasabi or horseradish

            4. Whole grain mustard, esp. Dijon, adds a nice dimension.

            Good luck.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Ditto on the mustard, just a touch.
              Sometimes I'll add a little pickle relish, and celery always.
              Don't overdo the mayo.
              Salt and pepper, and sometimes a pinch of curry powder.

            2. I always add a touch of garlic powder or garlic salt.

              1. Why not just ask the restaurant for the recipe? Most places are more than happy to oblige.

                1 Reply
                1. Are you draining the tuna really well? If it seems too wet, maybe there's too much residual liquid. And trying switching up between oil and water-packed to see if it makes a difference in the final result. I think oil-packed is more flavorful. And I don't like Albacore; it always seems so flavorless, dry, and it's pretty mercury-heavy.