Analytic Tuna Fish

July 10, 2008

Are there really any two families in the United States that prepare their tuna fish the same way? I would beg to assert that the composition of tuna fish salad is one of the most beautiful regional variations there is. Some people are pickle devotees. Some people swear by bare minimalism.

This is how we make tuna in Pencilhaven:

  1. One can tuna, usually the more expensive stuff, white albacore, but I am less picky in this regard than David, other than I always get water-packed, not oil-packed. My childhood brand is Starkist.
  2. Two tablespoons mayonnaise, not, I repeat not Miracle Whip, though David would use the nasty crap if he could get away with it. I usually use Best Foods, a.k.a. Hellman’s if you are from some other place in the country.
  3. About 1.5 tablespoons pickle relish. The standard American kind: sweet-tangy, with bits of pimento or whatever the red flecks are. I find this to be an essential ingredient in my world: I love the sweet and crunch it adds.
  4. A dash of cumin. This is very Pencil-specific.
  5. Cracked black pepper.

What I find intriguing is how intensely people react to different tuna formulae. “Oh, god,” I’ve heard a friend say. “Pickle relish?! Foul!”

How does your tuna roll?


  1. Gray says:

    I have never eaten tuna salad. I have never knowingly eaten pickle relish. I have avoided mayo to the best of my ability for 33 years.

    I think it’s probably not for me.

  2. Aaron says:

    Good call on the Miracle Whip. It’s downright evil. My wife bought some a few months ago and told me she didn’t think it was any different than the normal mayo we buy (Best Foods Light). I had to educate her.

  3. Peat says:

    Pretty much as you described, minus cumin, plus mustard. Mm. Mustard really lights it up a bit. :)

  4. Thomas says:

    As unfortunate as it sounds, my wife is allergic to eggs, so we don’t use regular mayo. However, I’ve found over time that I actually like Vegenaise (at least the grapeseed oil variety) even better. We mix a good bit of that, some diced red onion and pickle, a dash of salt and garlic powder and call it done. We’ve also done the cumin thing on occasion (I’m a fan, personally of anything with cumin in it).

  5. Jimh says:

    I pretty much do the same thing minus the relish and cumin and add lots of green onion. As for the mayo, I use one from Spectrum made with expeller pressed canola oil, much healthier but I still prefer best foods or Kewpie (Japanese mayo).

  6. JohnA says:

    Like Peat, I’m a mustard man too. Sometimes I throw in a shot or two of tabasco as well.

    I lived in GA 10 years ago, and there everyone was all about the Miracle Whip. All tangy, all the time. I almost gag just thinking about it.

  7. Matt says:

    Tuna, bit of mayo, baguette.

    Job done.

  8. Donura says:

    I have to agree that Tuna Salad is very individual and also very regional. I use only Albacore packed in water. Finely diced celery, dill pickle relish, mayo(Best Foods), salt and pepper. My children are begged for their tuna sandwiches when they take them to school. Some kids and teachers as well have made comments like, I wish my mom would make me tuna sandwiches :>) Amazing, something so simple.

  9. autumn says:

    tuna, mayo (similar aversion to miracle whip), onions, celery. yum.

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