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+ servings

Real Tuna Salad

Believe it or not, tuna salad doesn't have to start with a can. Steaming a fresh piece of tuna is a game changer for your tuna salad sandwich.
Prep Time: 13 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Refrigerate: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 20 minutes
Course: Lunch, sandwich
Keyword: tuna
Servings: 2
Calories: 229kcal


Steam The Tuna

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 pinches mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns (sub 1/4 tsp ground pepper)
  • 1 lemon, divided
  • 8 oz yellowfin tuna

Salad Ingredients

  • 1/2 mayonnaise
  • 1/2 shallot, minced (sub red onion)
  • 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed
  • 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped (optional)


  • Put water, wine and spices in a saucepan that has a steamer basket. Cut the ends of each side of a lemon and add to water. Set saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Set steamer basket on top and place tuna inside. Cover, and steam over simmering water for about 7 minutes, turning tuna once, until tuna is cooked all the way through. Flake with a fork to check that all pink is gone. Remove from heat, set tuna aside to cool. Discard water and spices.
  • Flake the tuna by hand into a medium mixing bowl. Add mayo, shallot, celery, white pepper, celery seed. Work the ingredients together with a fork until all tuna is shredded and well combined. Squeeze half a lemon over and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Check seasoning before serving adding lemon juice and a touch more mayo if needed. Option to add chopped parsley.


This is an adaptation of a tuna salad recipe that I learned to make in college when I prepped food for a seafood deli and restaurant.  The secret is two-fold.  First, use fresh tuna and steam it instead of opening a can.  Second, white pepper and celery seed.
Make it the day before and refrigerate overnight for best results.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 44mg | Sodium: 79mg | Potassium: 832mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 799IU | Vitamin C: 68mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!