Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"The Best Tuna Salad..."



Salmon salad as I run out of tuna... :)

In 2001, when I just moved from New York to Seattle, I was desperate for any job, and when the opportunity to work in the renovated food court of University of Washington came, I was on board the very next week. I was a prep cook before we would open, and then I served the  food to a thousands of hungry students in exchange of their cash. 
If you ask me which part I liked better, I couldn't tell you as both experiences were joyful. I loved watching our chefs at work (there was an Italian section called At Home, where all meals were prepared from scratch every morning), from whom I've learned some tips and tricks around the kitchen, including my knife skills. 
I also loved the atmosphere during serving time: cheerful, bright, and smart. 
Few years later, when my language skills improved and I got all my educational papers translated and in order, I left the HUB (that's how we called our food court) to pursue my career goal at other job. But the sentimental feeling of my years in the crazy yet delicious and fascinating student environment never left me. 

I started with a simple tasks in the kitchen, and with my skills improving, responsibilities grew. My proud moment was when I was asked to make a tuna salad, following the recipe. I did it one morning, then the next, then morning after that. Then I decided to play with the recipe, just a tiny bit (nothing can hurt a tuna salad, right?)
On our huge spice/herb rack I found a jar with rarely used dry dill. It took me a second to think of my tuna salad.  I felt like a kid who just found a jar of candies: my eyes were shiny, my face was stamped with a big happy smile. The basic recipe for tuna salad had just a few ingredients: tuna, celery, pickles, red onions, black pepper, and mayonnaise. I added dry dill, and reduced amount of mayo (to me the salad didn't look pretty, swimming in all that mayo).  Customers loved it, and it came to the point when I had to double the amount of salad for the day. 
That's when the Chef came in with the recipe check.  Oh, no! Busted! I was standing in the corner, head down, making myself as invisible as possible. Zillion excuses run through my head before he started to talk to me. 
He was standing there, smiling: "Let me try the best tuna salad everyone is talking about", he said. 
What? Did I hear it right, "the best tuna salad"? "Everyone is talking about"? I knew it was popular because we sold more and more of it, but the best?! and to hear it from the Chef? I was so proud, I was so happy! it was my little victory and one of the best awards. 
I told the chef what I did to the original recipe. He approved it with a smile. Then he asked me if I want to learn how to make pastry, but for this I would have to come to work two hours earlier in the morning. Who could refuse such offer? Not me... The very next morning I came to work two hours earlier, to make pastry, then to continue  later with my tuna salad. 


Pickled watermelon rind (recipe in the next post)



Tuna salad


Ingredients:
250 gr canned tuna (or salmon )
100 gr diced pickles (experiment with pickled watermelon rind)
1-2 tablespoon dry dill (it has more aroma)
1-2 tablespoon Vegenaise
2 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

In large bowl combine all ingredients, and you don't have to measure exactly (can of tuna, 2-3 pickles),  taste to adjust seasoning. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours and eat! 


Cheese muffins (come back for the recipe!)


See you,
Marina

72 comments:

  1. This does sound like the best tuna salad, Marina! I'll have to make some soon.

    Working with the students at UW is truly marvelous! The HUB is being remodeled and will re-open soon with a new food court. You'll have to check it out the next time you are in Seattle. Hope you are enjoying summer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's what I've heard, another remodeling. It should look great! I hope to be back in Seattle next year, can't wait! Thanks Hannah for your comment! :)

      Delete
  2. Woooow, what a story Marina. Actually what a stories. First of all you must have been soooo proud of yourself when the chef complimented your adjusted tuna salad in this particularly awesome way. So, then you give me no choice other than try the best tuna salad everyone was once talkig about:-)
    And I have clicked to read your guest post on "fear of writing" and I am so surprised and sooo proud of you. You are so brave to go to a new county in which you cannot communicate well, then learn the language and actually start a blog in English. I can imagine that despite all those wonderful experiences you must have felt stuck sometimes as a journalist doing some petty jobs. Well at least I feel this way quite often being trained as a biotechnologist and environmental scientist and working as a personal assistant.
    And you know what? You're really mean with this teasing issue. But I will come back for cheese muffins recipe of course, especially since I am searching for a great recipe for savoury muffins. All that I tried before were somehow not perfect so I'm more than willing to try your recipe. Hopefully it will finally work for me:-)
    Ok I thinks it's time to end this comment, otherwise it will become longer that your post ;-)
    All the best Marina :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Joanna, for your kind comment. Yes, looking back I am thinking that if someone told me what I had to go through, I would laugh in disbelieve. But sometimes we do what we have to do, and what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.
      Cheese muffins were surprisingly easy to make, and didn't require a lot of ingredients. I will post the recipe soon, I need to make another batch and take better pictures as it was very late and dark to capture the perfect moment. :)

      Delete
    2. I am patiently waiting for the recipe then. And I have to admit that my kitchen life is sometimes ruled by the fact that I have to take photos of dishes I cook in the proper lightning and proper weather. Pros and cons of being a food blogger that wants to have nice photos hihihi.

      Delete
  3. I love the story! Isn't everything better with dill? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha, in this world dill can cure any dish, and not only! :) Thanks for coming, Jane! :)

      Delete
  4. What a lovely story! Can't wait to try the recipe. I haven't had a good tuna salad in a while now. Thank you for the inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Working with students is very rewarding. They so appreciate the things you do for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Norma, yes indeed. Students also have grate attitude and contagious energy, I love it! :)

      Delete
  6. Your tuna salad looks and sounds delicious! It's always nice to be complimented by the head chef....you are making me miss my culinary career a wee bit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :) I know, I miss it too, and quite often. I think I miss the atmosphere too.

      Delete
  7. Wonderful story...i enjoyed reading it! Now that tuna salad is amazingly delicious looking but I love those cheese muffins..so tempting!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sandra! Cheese muffins were good, I made only six and we ate it quickly at dinner. :)

      Delete
  8. What a great story, Marina, and what a great Chef to work under. Tuna salad is such a classic and like the mouse trap, if you can build a better tuna salad ...
    Can't wait to see how you make your cheese muffins. I'll be back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks John. I am glad you liked it. I will be posting the cheese muffins recipe soon. :) Need to make some more and take a better pictures: it was almost dark and I was in a hurry to capture at least something...:)

      Delete
  9. I did not know that English was not you native language. You write beautifully! Thank you for sharing BOTH stories!
    Your tuna salad recipe looks delicious. I look forward to seeing your cheese muffins recipe coming soon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sheila! I appreciate your kind words about my writing. Please, do come back for cheese muffins recipe, I'll post it soon. :)

      Delete
  10. I love tuna with dill, great stories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Laura! Dill makes this salad so fragrant! :)

      Delete
  11. Very nice plates, beautiful! O I love tuna salad, I am going to try my next tuna recipe with garlic and pickles. Good job, Marina! Sorry, I did not stop by before, doing some work around the house-))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Yelena! I know, those home remodeling or organizing take so much time and all attention! Good luck, I hope your project is going well. :)

      Delete
  12. Marina, first of all thanks for commenting on my noodle salad. It hardly seems fair because your tuna salad is miles better and it seems, more popular than mine!

    And I've only read this one post, but already I am SO inspired by your story, and by you! I'm going to come back here again to check on those two other recipes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Maya, or no, don't be so modest: your salad is very beautiful indeed! :)
      You are always welcome here, in my kitchen! :) Please, do come back!

      Delete
  13. Marina, first of all thanks for commenting on my noodle salad. It hardly seems fair because your tuna salad is miles better and it seems, more popular than mine!

    And I've only read this one post, but already I am SO inspired by your story, and by you! I'm going to come back here again to check on those two other recipes.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Tuna salad is one of those classics that everyone loves! I spent 7 years making a tuna salad that I was finally proud of. I can't get enough of it and yours looks lovely :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bingo, that's what I was going through: searching for salad I like. Thanks Lorraine, for stopping at my kitchen! :)

      Delete
  15. This sounds super yummy. I love that you put dill in it...I love anything with dill :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love anything with dill too, I even make tea with dill seeds (shhh, don't tell anyone!) I make this salad with onions and garlic, and I love with garlic better. :)
      Thanks for visiting my blog! :)

      Delete
  16. Love a tuna salad and pickled watermelon. They're quite refreshing on a hot day...Pop on over Marina for my giveaway. Have a lovely day! : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Vanessa! I love pickled watermelons a lot: it reminds me of summer at home. I love what you did with eggs, and that's an interesting tool there but I don't have microwave... :)

      Delete
  17. pickles go fabulously with tuna! Love this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jen! yes pickles are very good in this tuna salad! :)

      Delete
  18. Lovely story Marina! I was so caught up in it and really got worried when you got busted, now I can't wait to try the best tuna salad and can't wait for both the muffins and the pickled watermelon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Sawsan! It makes it very special when I receive comments on my story. :)

      Delete
  19. Marina, I just love reading your heartfelt stories...this one, especially! Looks like you have one scoop of tuna salad, and the other two are the salmon salads, since you mentioned your ran out of tuna, then proceeded to make the salmon...very delicious, craving it right now, and will be buying canned salmon! Have not used canned salmon in decades...seriously, since probably the late seventies!

    Love the pickled watermelon rinds...anything pickled is my faves! The muffins look so scrumptious, and moist...will click back to get recipe!
    Thanks for sharing!
    xo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elisabeth, that's actually all salmon, I didn't have any tuna in my house, so I just used the same recipe with salmon. It worked very well, we had it all for lunch with no leftover (I always think that I would have some leftover for later to indulge!).
      Pickled watermelons is another story to tell, just a hint: I made it three times! :)

      Delete
  20. I am sure that when you are thinking of those days back then you also think of how many things you have accomplished. As a very important poet of my country Kavafis said "All I have done is not little, where I am now, great glory!" Your story was so interesting to read and your tuna salad is bookmarked!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Katerina! You always have kind and thoughtful words to say, and it makes me feel encouraged! I was asked more than once if I regret any job I did, and I always say: no, never. Each experience in my life led me to a new opportunity, introduced me to a new people, engraved great stories in my heart. What to regret?! :) It's all about how you look at things...

      Delete
  21. Wow, Marina! I never knew you were so new to the English language...you write beautifully...better than a huge number of folks who have spoken English from Day 1...seriously. And great story about your famous tuna salad...you've put me in the mood for a sandwich...and I'll be sure to add dill :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Lizzy for your kind and encouraging words! Somewhere in the back of my mind, I always have this little fear: what if I say it wrong, or write it with mistakes. Hearing comments like your's make me feel more secure, and gives me energy and positive attitude to think, write, and create... :)
      Yes, add some dill (I found dry dill more fragrant), I hope you like it!

      Delete
  22. I like tuna salad and dill goes so well with seafood. It sounds like a perfect match and since it is famous how could I not try it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Karen! :) I think chef said it to make me feel better... And it did!

      Delete
  23. Tuna salad is a classic one and great for lunch on any day of the week. Yours looks excellent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Alida! Are you still in Italy?

      Delete
  24. The dry dill sounds like a good ingredient to add. We had tuna sandwiches at lunch today. I'll try making it with salmon next time! Great idea!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Diane, I go through so mush dry dill that I have to buy it in bulk! It is delicious herb, I think! :) Thanks for visiting me here!

      Delete
  25. I'm going to have to try dried dill again. I had kind of written it off, although that was so long ago I've forgotten why (I'll bet what I used was too old). Anyway, nice tuna salad! I like mine with onion (I know) and celery, but yours looks delish. Really fun story - thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. John, when you buy dill, go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, they sell good quality dry dill. That's where I buy mine (if I don't dry it myself). I add onion and celery to my tuna salad too, I didn't have celery that day. :) Thanks for inspiring me to make pickled watermelon rind... :)

      Delete
  26. Great story, Marina! And that Tuna Salad looks awesome, congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Gerry! I know you don't cook, but I am sure you would like to eat this one... :)

      Delete
  27. Wow, that is quite an amazing story. I am sure you must have felt so good. I am going to give your recipe a shot. I love tuna salad especially in a sandwich.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Asmita! I love tuna/salmon salad on lettuce and on sandwich. This time I made those little boats with a portion of salad so anyone can choose how to eat it... :)

      Delete
  28. And there I was wondering about watermelon rind pickle and I can see a tantalising photo.... :) What a lovely blog you have!

    I use fresh dill when I can get it aand sometimes dried, as my Mum was Danish and dill is the herb of choice for fish traditionally in Denmark, I love your story of introducing it to the tuna salad, just perfect. I mix mayonaisse with strained yoghurt sometimes for a dressing, but we don't have tuna salad that often. I must try it again soon. We put dill in with new potatoes when we boil them sometimes too. Hey nice to meet you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joanna, welcome to my blog, to my kitchen! Nice to meet you as well! Thank you for the compliment, I do appreciate it: it makes my heart smile... :)
      Oh yes, new potatoes with fresh dill and a little garlic: a dream dinner! I love it and make it when I can buy all the ingredients. Apparently, dill is the most challenging one to find: we live in the area with hot summer, and dill doesn't like high temperature. So whenever I can get my hands on dry dill, I buy around a kilogram to last me until the next time. :)

      Delete
  29. Looks so delicious! I'm sure it's the best tuna salad :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Danutza! In Romania there is another salad they make from canned fish, right? I think it has eggs and cheese in it? I am not sure, but I have some friends from Romania and they made a few fish salads. Was delicious! Would be nice to see the recipe some day on your blog. Send me a link if you post, please! :)

      Delete
  30. I love the sound of your salad. Congrats on it being such a success. I think pickles and tuna go so well together xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Charlie! Oh well, I think the chef was just being nice... But I do make my tuna salad with dill since...:)

      Delete
  31. Fun story =) I don't think I've ever tried dill in my tuna salad - but I'm going to HAVE to now...I mean, how could I not!? I'm seeing a sammie stuffed with it for lunch in a few days...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Heather, I always make my fish with dill, but never added it to tuna salad until I started to work at UW kitchen. Let me know if you like it... :)

      Delete
  32. I would say, wonderful pictures! The way you presented this tuna salad, made me even more hungry!! Bookmarked.
    http://cosmopolitancurrymania.blogspot.hk/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Purabi! Thanks for visiting my blog, please, make yourself comfortable here.. Thanks for the compliment on my photos: I always appreciate it! :)

      Delete
  33. What a great story! Sounds like straight out of a novel :-P, your pictures are getting better and better, I admire your dedication :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww, thanks Ruth! you are very sweet! :)

      Delete
  34. Your stories always rock my socks my friend, especiallyh when they are accocompanied by such a beautiful recipe :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

    ReplyDelete
  35. I love dill so much - they use it a lot in Sweden (sometimes too much... they seem to put it in all their potato salads!!!) but it's delicious though. Come to think about it, I don't think I've ever seen it dried, but it's good to know that the flavours get more concentrated as it dries. Some herbs don't take well to being dried at all (chives and parsley? lol!). Lovely sounding salad, I bet the dill is a wonderfully tasty touch!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny you should say so about potato salad they make in Sweden as I just made potato salad with dill myself! :) When I have fresh dill I enhance it in a meal with a dash of dried dill. I love dill in anything, I even make a tea from dill seeds, tastes delicious! :)

      Delete
  36. Wow your post opened my eyes - I've never made salmon salad instead of tuna! My kids probably prefer salmon over tuna (they eat tuna too) so I will give it a try. Adding dry dill in the tuna salad is fabulous and I look forward to trying it. Great stories with delicious recipe!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Nami! I think any canned fish would work, I tried it with canned sardines, mackerel, and cod...:)

      Delete

Your warm comments put a smile on my heart.