The Ever Reliable Tuna Sandwich

Tuna sandwich

Canned tuna is probably one of the most versatile food items you can have in your pantry. You can eat it straight from the can, or you can subject it to a variety of cooking process, from sauteing to stewing and baking. You can use it as a filling or a topping, or as a main dish.

Back in college, I used to have a stock of canned tuna and sardines in tomato sauce in the drawer in my dorm. Reviewing for exams could last the whole night and when hunger pangs set in, I’d usually open a can and, with freshly baked local bread (we call it pan de sal) being sold at the reception downstairs, would eat the hastily assembled tuna/sardines sandwich. Nothing fancy — just the oil-soaked tuna flakes or the tomato sauce-drenched sardines oozing from the bread. It was absolutely delicious.

Several weeks ago, I suddenly had a craving for tuna sandwich. It was a weekend and, after having a toxic work week, I had no desire to cook or go out whatsoever. So, I took stock of what I had in my pantry and fridge. Canned tuna in spring water — check. Tomatoes — check. Mustard — check. Onion — check. Picke relish — check. Oh, yes, I had bread too.

Canned tuna in oil is quite, well, oily for my taste. Tuna in brine, meanwhile, is salty for me. Whenever I make tuna sandwich, I prefer to use the ones packed in water. I seldom use mayonnaise in my tuna sandwich but when I do use it, I often add wasabi powder or prepared wasabi to it.

Ok, let’s make a proper list now, shall we?


1 canned tuna flakes (drained)

1-2 heaping teaspoons (or more if you prefer) whole-grain mustard

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish

a few sprigs of coriander leaves, chopped

spring onion, chopped (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

a squeeze of lemon juice, according to your preference (optional)

1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

1 celery stalk, minced (optional, for added crunch)

1 medium-sized tomato, sliced

shredded cabbage or lettuce

Tuna sandwich mixture


1. Open the canned tuna. Drain.

2. In a bowl, mix the tuna with all the other ingredients.

3. Place the shredded cabbage or whole lettuce leaf on the bread (you can also toast the bread beforehand). Spread the tuna mixture on top of the lettuce. Top with tomato slices.

I like anything spicy so whenever I make tuna sandwiches, I always mix in some Tabasco or Sriracha sauce. If not, I would add dried chili flakes into the mixture or chili powder.


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