This salad can simply be served over rice or greens or piled onto slices of thick sourdough bread and griddled for a Korean twist on the classic tuna melt.
This isn’t your typical tuna salad! This recipe combines kimchi and canned tuna for a flavorful and unique fish salad. Kimchi, a popular Korean ingredient and side dish made from fermented cabbage, is rubbed with a red pepper spice paste.
Tuna – Canned or jarred tuna is a great way to easily (and inexpensively) add protein to dishes. Not all canned tuna is created equal. So I recommend looking for oil-packed tuna in jars like Tonnino.
Kimchi – To make kimchi, Napa cabbage is first soaked in a salty brine to kill any bacteria. It’s then rubbed with spices (typically gocharu, Korean red pepper flakes) and fermented until it becomes the pungent, tangy Korean favorite that’s good on everything from noodles to dumplings. It can be an acquired taste but once you’ve been enlightened to it’s greatness you won’t be turning back anytime soon.
Kewpie mayo – Kewpie is a type of Japanese mayonnaise that has added seasoning and tastes richer and more vinegary than other mayonnaise. If you can’t find Kewpie, regular mayonnaise also works fine.
Ginger – The addition of grated fresh ginger provides a zesty flavor to this fish salad.
Green onion – Green onion thinly sliced crosswise adds both color and a light onion flavor to the salad.
Celery – I prefer adding finely diced celery to my salad for a subtle added texture. Celery stalks thinly sliced can be used instead if preferred.
Instructions for Kimchi Tuna Salad
Step 1: Combine Ingredients
Add the tuna, kimchi, mayo, celery, green onion, sesame seeds and ginger to a large mixing bowl. Use a fork to combine the mixture, breaking up the tuna with the back of a fork.
Step 2: Serve or store
Once the mixture is combined, use, or cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The kimchi tuna salad can be made up to 3 days in advance.
Tips and Tricks for How to Make Kimchi Tuna Salad
How to Prepare the Salad in Advance
The salad can be made up to three days in advance.
How to Store the Salad
Cover and store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
How to Adjust the Tanginess and Flavor
I like the natural tanginess that comes from the kimchi in this salad, though if you prefer it to be a bit more acidic you can add a bit of rice wine vinegar, lemon or lime juice. Adding ½ tablespoon of fish sauce will also add a umami flavor.
Mayonnaise is optional in this recipe as it can be made without it, opting instead for the juices of the kimchi as well as the addition of 2 tablespoons of unseasoned rice wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil.
For additional spice add ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, gochugaru or 1 teaspoon sambal oelek. Then simply stir into the tuna mixture.
Make a tuna melt
Spread 2 tablespoons of mayo on the outside of 2 slices of bread. Add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese on the bottom slice of bread and then scoop the kimchi tuna salad on top.
Heat 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a large cast iron pan. Add the sandwich to the pan with the mayonnaise side down. Cook until the sandwich is browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the other side has browned and the cheese is melted, about an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
Make a sandwich
Scoop the tuna salad onto slices of bread. Top with slices of cooked bacon, slices of tomatoes and leaves of lettuce. Close the sandwich, cut in half with a bread knife and serve.
Serve with Rice
Add sushi rice to a bowl and top with a scoop of the kimchi tuna salad. Then serve with slices of avocado, chopped cucumber and thinly sliced carrots.
Serve as a Salad
Simply toss wild arugula, chopped kale or baby spinach with rice vinegar to taste or lemon juice and sesame oil. Then top with the tuna salad and serve.
Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this kimchi tuna salad, give these recipes a try: