How To Add Umami To Tuna Salad

A tuna salad sandwich is a simple pleasure. Canned fish, mayo and maybe a little relish are all you really need, but some brands of canned fish can be bland and, once you add mayo, any flavour the tuna was bringing becomes super muted.

But recently I’ve been buying my canned fish from a different store, and I’ve noticed that Korean brands of the canned fish have more flavour, thanks to the addition of other ingredients, particularly ones containing umami.

Mushroom powder — which you can DIY — is a super common one, as is seaweed (try pulverised kombu), and you can sprinkle either of these in your tuna salad to taste for a lil’ savoury boost. If you’re an umami purist, reach for straight-up, unadulterated, crystalline MSG (obviously).

But the best strategy for dealing with bland canned tuna, in my opinion, is upping the fish quotient with Asian fish sauce or anchovy paste. Both add that delicious, rich, slightly funky umami you’re seeking, without reading as overly “fishy.” Rather than change the flavour profile of your tuna salad, it simply brings what should have been there in the first place. Add a few dashes, taste, and repeat as needed. (Just don’t add celery; celery is a crime against deli salads.)


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