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Mock Tuna Salad

Updated on April 29, 2015
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I'm in the midst of a vegetarian kerfuffle!

My daughter is a devout (I'm not exaggerating) vegetarian, but she still pines for the taste of foods she enjoyed in her childhood.

There are many manufacturers of protein substitutes that mimic the taste and texture of beef or chicken, and most are very good. However, there are few if any products that reproduce the taste of seafood.

Canned tuna is one of those food loves my daughter still craves, and so I set out to find a way to replicate the taste and texture of tuna salad without killing a fish.

Cook Time

Prep time: 40 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: 1 or 2 servings

Utensils you will need

  • steamer basket (not mandatory, but helpful)
  • box grater (not mandatory, but helpful)
  • large mixing bowl

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. tempeh
  • 1/2 cup celery, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup dill pickle, finely minced
  • 1 sheet noiri, crumbled (optional)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
  1. Place the tempeh in steamer basket. Steam over simmering water for 20 minutes. Remove from basket and set aside to cool (about 30 minutes).
  2. Grate tempeh on large hole side of box grater or chop finely. Place in mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss lightly. Taste for seasoning and add salt and/or ground pepper if desired.
  3. You may use immediately, but I think this "tuna salad" tastes better if the flavors are allowed to meld for an hour or more in the refrigerator.

What is tempeh?

According to Wikipedia, tempeh is a soy product that is originally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form, similar to a very firm vegetarian burger patty.

Tempeh begins with whole soybeans, which are softened by soaking, and dehulled, then partly cooked.

What makes this recipe work?

  • Unlike tofu, tempeh has a firm, meaty texture which, when grated, better replicates the mouth-feel of canned tuna.
  • Many of the flavors that we enjoy in tuna salad are ingredients other than the canned tuna. Creamy mayonnaise, crisp celery, tangy dill pickle, a bit of pungent minced onion--these are the things of which a good tuna salad is made.

What to do with mock tuna salad?

  • make a traditional tuna salad sandwich--white or whole grain bread, tuna salad, fresh lettuce leaves, sliced tomato (optional), and perhaps a smear of dijon mustard.
  • Create a salad by placing an ice-cream scoop of "tuna salad" on a bed of salad greens. Surround with grape tomatoes, black olives, sliced hard boiled egg, avocado slices, chopped walnuts, and drizzle with your favorite salad dressing.
  • Spread "tuna salad" on a slice of rustic bread. Top with a slice of cheese and another slice of bread. Grill or toast in a panini press.

© 2014 Linda Lum

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