Up Your Tuna Salad Game With Some Spicy, Crunchy Kimchi

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Korean cuisine grew in popularity as we all began cooking at home more often. The increase in demand for kimchi grew between 2019 to 2022, so much so that the U.S. is now close to taking the top spot for the biggest global buyer of Korean kimchi. There are plenty of great ways to use kimchi, from garnishes on burgers to loading it on fries, but one you may not have considered is adding it to your tuna salad.

Tuna salad is easy to make, delicious, and light. So what's it missing? The answer: spice and crunch. While some tuna salad recipes include celery to break up that creamy texture, combining kimchi with those traditional tuna salad flavors ensures a good bite and kick. It's a twist on a classic that'll elevate and complement your standard salad. This blend of flavors does not demand any rare Asian ingredients, so it's accessible to anyone.

A hot, crunchy addition

Kimchi couples well with the usual suspects in your tuna salad. All you'll need for this recipe is fish sauce, a can of tuna, spring onions, mayonnaise, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and (of course) a jar of kimchi. You can add ginger too if you like a little earthy fire or celery for additional crunch. Before mixing, it's best to separate the kimchi and excess juice. Drain the kimchi through a colander or sieve and catch the juices in a bowl. This allows you to create a dressing with the other liquid ingredients.

Coarsely chop the kimchi and combine it with the tuna and spring onions. You can then pour your dressing over and mix it. The dressing can be adjusted — if you prefer a spicier kick, add gochugaru or chili flakes, and if you like the acidic tang, add a little more rice wine vinegar. This mixture is excellent slathered in a sandwich or even pressed into a toastie with a load of shredded cheddar. Although sauerkraut and kimchi are distinct from one another in flavor, they both provide a similar fermented crunch. If you're not into kimchi or spice, you can always use sauerkraut for a similar texture elevator in tuna salad.

Not just about that spicy taste

Upping your tuna salad with the taste and texture of kimchi is a fantastic choice. Yet, there are also numerous nutritional benefits to using kimchi in this salad. Kimchi has an ancient history that's seen it shoot from a traditional Korean staple to a worldwide superfood. Recognized as one of the "world's healthiest foods," it's no secret that fermented kimchi has remarkable properties that are great for gut health. Packed with probiotics and rich in vitamins, kimchi can also protect against lipid-related diseases, such as diabetes and liver disorders.

Alongside this, fermented kimchi, compared to fresh kimchi, can also aid in weight loss. Spice — in moderation — is good for our bodies too, with a 2015 study published in the British Medical Journal noting that those who consumed spicy foods every day of the week had a 14% reduced risk of death in comparison with those who did so less than once a week. So in case you're not a fan of the heat, it might be time to reconsider welcoming a little spice into your life. Considering the nutritional benefits, texture, and taste kimchi could bring to your tuna salad game, there's really no excuse not to try this.