Saturday, February 26, 2011

tuna salad sandwiches

Who can, between working two jobs, while running a business, and going to school at the same time, can still cater to 12 people? My sister Lisa can. Apparently. How she finds time to do everything, I have no idea.

Originally Lisa's schedule allowed her enough time to prepare the tuna salad sandwiches during her shift at work but she forgot to buy the most important ingredient of tuna salad. No she did not forget the celery. No she did not forget the mayo. She forgot the tuna. She bought everything but the tuna. By the time she realized it, it was too late to go back to the store. I was eating ramen at Benkei when I received her call and almost choked on my noodles laughing at her. But this leads to why she asked me to pick up canned tuna, along with a few other ingredients, and make the sandwiches the next day on my shift. Funny thing was, I did the exact same thing my sister did; I picked up everything on my shopping list but the tuna. Guess the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree, eh?

My sisters recipe is not your standard fourth-grade-tuna-salad-lunchbox recipe. This one incorporates several different textures. The onions add a nice semi-spicy bite; a fresher, crispier crunch from the lettuce; unexpected creamy blocks of avocado; and of course, the unique texture of fish.


Tuna Salad Sandwiches
Yields ~12 sandwiches, or store left-over salad in an air-tight container for a few days.

4 cans of tuna, drained and flaked
1 small red onion
1 ripe avocado
5-6 red-leaf lettuce leaves
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
Horseradish or Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon garlic paste

12 slices of whole-grain bread
12 slices of white bread 

Tuna salad: Cut the red onion in half and make vertical cuts but do not cut all the way through! Leave about 1 cm at one end intact. Turn the onion half and make vertical cuts perpendicular to your first cut. This way, you will have perfectly diced onions. Repeat same process to the other onion half. Heat some butter in a small frying pan and saute just until the onions becomes slightly translucent in color and aromatic, roughly 3-5 minutes. We want to get rid of that spicy-tang of the onions but still retain it's bite. Once done, take it off the heat and let it cool.
Take a knife and make a cut into the avocado until you hit the pit, then run it all the way around the fruit. Give the avocado a little twist and the two halves should separate. Using the heel of your knife, jam it into the pit and twist your knife - the pit should pop right out. Peel the avocado and cut into cubes. I like to cut my cubes a bit bigger so when I mix it into the other ingredients, it doesn't get mashed.   
Wash and dry the lettuce leaves thoroughly. Roughly chop up the leaves.
Put all the prepared ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, horseradish, and garlic paste and combine thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. How much mayo and horseradish you use is up to you. I like my tuna salad to be a bit smoother, so I used roughly about 1/2 cup of mayonnaise and 1/4 cups of horseradish.

Assemble: Scoop a generous amount of tuna salad onto one slice of bread and spread it evenly. At this point, you can add a bit of cheese and melt it underneath a broiler to transform it into a tuna melt. If not, top off your sandwich and enjoy!

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