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Tuna/Chicken Salad Extenders

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While this isn't really Kosher a Kosher topic, it's a topic almost unique to NY style Deli's of old and doesn't seem to fit anywhere else on this board. I spent some years working foodservice for some former open air NY sandwich shop owners that retired down south. While I learned some marvelous tricks of the trade that made NY Deli style salads and sides unique and rarely discussed or ever seen in print in any Deli cookbook, I never had the opportunity to learn how to use extenders such as bread,crumbs, and other extenders that were common in NY and old time Deli's. While I'm privy to many of the secrets that made the salads special, this is one area that we never did, but was made aware of. Can anyone provide any insight to the use of extenders?

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  1. I'm just responding first.... I have nothing to contribute here, I always do celery or apples ...but never bread crumbs.

    I think my grandmother might have put breadcrumbs in her chopped liver, but that's it.

    1. Onions work well in tuna, egg salad, and chicken salad. Celery works well in tuna and chicken. I've had onions, apple, and a little jalapeno in chicken salad- very good. Fried onions works very well in egg salad but not tuna. A little unflavored breadcrumbs works okay in any salad but too much gives it a nasty texture. I've got some good feedback from panko in chicken salad, and experiments are ongoing. Mustard, both yellow and brown, work well in egg salad, as well as giving it an exciting flavor profile and improving the color. It doesn't bulk it out much when making small quantities but you'd be shocked how much it bulks out large quantities, anything over 4 dozen eggs basically.

      And there's always the last refuge of the truly lazy, which is "add more mayonnaise".

      1. I always (not on Pesach) put unflavored breadcrumbs, lemon juice and white pepper in along with the mayo when making Tuna sald. My oldest daughter won't eat anyone else's tuna.

        I learned to use the breadcrumbs back in the 70s when working at a kosher deli in CT. When we didn't make our own, we used the premade from Sally Sherman (along with their cole slaw and potato salads). The ingredients listed bread crumbs as well. The bread crumbs helped stabilize the mixture and kept the mayo from separating in the fridge.

        Salads made in the deli/appetizing stores also contained items not in the name. It would not be unusual to add cooked turkey to chicken salad when grinding the mix. Whatever was getting old in the deli case was added in.

        We used to make whitefish salad. Along with the whitefish, mayo, celery, onions and green apple, we'd toss in any drying out ends of fish from the case that was white in color. So baked salmon would go in, but not lox. Chunks of sable might also go into the mix, and at times a little tuna to extend and lower the cost.

        BTW>>>>commercial establishments adding bread crumbs were able to use a lesser grade of canned tuna, such as chink white or chunck light as opposed t solid white albacore and still serve a tasty product with good consistency.

        3 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01

          You remind me of an old recipe for imitation mock whitefish salad. It was made from sardines, mayonnaise, and the one-pound boxes of frozen kosher flounder. It was useful because we were living in a place where kosher smoked whitefish and fresh kosher fish were not available. It's actually very good.

          I am fond of the European style of adding niblet corn to tuna salad.

          1. re: AdinaA

            Considering it's not native, it's quite surprising how much corn shows up in central European foods.

            1. re: DeisCane

              Tomatoes in Italy. Potatoes in Ireland. Both "new world' crops!

        2. Add a hard-boiled egg to tuna. One egg per can.

          1. I'd be interested in some of the tricks of the trade that you picked up over the years. Do you have them written down anywhere?

            I often make chicken salad out of leftover rotisserie chicken that's available in our kosher sections supermarkets. I mix the mayonaisse with the (usually jelled after they've been refrigerated) juices that have collected at the bottom of the container the chicken comes in, and then add the cut up ckicken pieces. Gives it a wonderful flavor, and seems to make the leftover meat more moist than mayo alone, which feels more like a coating.

            I chop up purple cabbage and add it to tuna salad instead of celery. It's colorful and imposes less of a flavor than celery does.

            1 Reply
            1. re: helou

              Purple cabbage sounds like a great idea for tuna salad. I was never a fan of celery in my tuna salad.