Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Expat's Oven: Jalapeño Ranch Tuna Salad

So, I realize that tuna salad doesn't require an oven at all, but I figured I'd write an Expat's Oven post about it anyway. I love tuna salad and it's really easy to make, so you probably have your own family recipe that you love. A roommate of mine back in College Station, TX always made hers with mayo and sliced grapes, which I thought was a weird texture (no offence, Cal). When I go the fruity-tuna-route from time to time, I really enjoy apple slices in mine! These days, I generally keep it spicy and savory, and one of my friends always asks how I make my kickin tuna salad, so... Here's the general idea:

The Expat's Oven: Jalapeño Ranch Tuna Salad 

I brought a *lot* of these ingredients back from the USA, so this isn't a typical easy-to-make-in-Korea recipe, unfortunately. It is definitely a homestyle comfort food for me, though, cause nothing really says Texas like jalapeños and ranch dressing, am I right??

I usually start with a cucumber, sometimes a bell pepper (any color). All these veggies are smaller in Korea than in the USA, probably because farmers don't use veggie steroids here, so I use an entire cucumber or 2 peppers. In the US I'd probably use half or 3/4 a cucumber, cause they're ginormous monster veggies. 

It's super easy to find canned tuna in Korea, but I have trouble finding tuna packed in water (instead of tuna packed in oil). This is the one I usually buy, which is also in a pouch and thus easier to open than a can. It also fits in my pantry easier, since it's so skinny, so that's a plus! Fun cultural fact: gift sets of canned tuna and spam are common at holidays like Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and Seollal (Lunar/Chinese New Year)

Rip open that pouch and turn it over above your sink to let the excess water drain out. There isn't much.

Today I'm using ranch dressing as my sauce for the tuna salad. I prefer Hidden Valley Ranch, so I usually bring it back from the States (my awesome cousin Tannah even game me some for Christmas this year!!!). You can find Kraft Ranch at foreign marts in Itaewon, but I think it tastes too bland and/or too much like plain mayonnaise (ew). You can also find Annie's Cowgirl Ranch on, but it's a much thinner ranch than Hidden Valley or Kraft.

Whatever sauce you choose will obviously affect the taste, plus it acts as the glue for all the other ingredients. I grew up with mayonnaise as the 'adhesive' or base, but I don't really like mayo anymore. I'd rather use ranch, sour cream, or greek yogurt (!!! <3), which are all really hard to find in Korea. The greek yogurt I've found is always sweeter than greek yo at home. Alas. (It works well when you go for an apple/craisin tuna salad though!)

Pick which spices you're going to use in your tuna salad. Like I said, I like things spicy, so today I went with black pepper, Cholula hot sauce, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, and jalapeño ranch seasoning. (Some of those are easy to find in Korea, just check your local grocery store or big mart. It's going to be much cheaper to find a store brand of these at home and bring them with you, but I've linked to iHerb if it's available. Cholula is my FAVORITE out of all the hot sauces I've ever tried, thus it came with me from home, but it's easy to find Tabasco at Emart or Lotte Mart. Use whatever floats your boat!)

Combine the diced veggies, tuna, and a heap of ranch dressing, like so. Eyeball it, use as much or as little dressing as you'd prefer.

Mine needed another good squeeze.

Mix all that goodness together.

Add all your spices. Use as much or little as you'd like, to taste, it's your baby!

After you've incorporated the spices, give a couple good shakes of the hot sauce, then mix it all together again.

Mine's looking a little dry, so I think I'll add more ranch at this point...

Much mo bettah!

Choose your accompanying snack. Here are some links to yummy crackers on iHerb: Gluten free crackers, Kashi crackers, Wasa rye flatbread #omnomnomnom

I plated my tuna salad with dill pickles and pickled jalapeños from Home Plus. It's difficult to find dill pickles in Korea! Most of the time you'll see sweet pickles. I wish I could easily find super sour dill pickles, but I love this brand of homestyle dill slices.

Get it on a plate and don't forget to instagram your lunch! #foodie #yolo #tunasalad #hashtag #sweetpicklessuck #ranchdressing #spicylife #glutenfree #comfortfood #expatsoven #blogger #seeyalllater!

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