Maldivian Tuna Salad

Maldivian Tuna Salad Last week summer finally arrived in Prague. From one week to another there was a change of 20°C, the days were finally full of sun, people began to smile more, and everybody had suddenly more energy....

Maldivian Tuna Salad
Maldivian Tuna Salad

Last week summer finally arrived in Prague. From one week to another there was a change of 20°C, the days were finally full of sun, people began to smile more, and everybody had suddenly more energy. So much heat, however, brought heavy rains. There was a big storm tonight, and while normally all of the rain drops falling on rooftops, thunder and lightning calms me down, and I sleep like a baby, that night I could not fall asleep. So when the rain calmed a bit I took my laptop, sat on a balcony and searched for places to stay over the summer. There were no people on the street, just some random raindrops falling on my legs, and as I was going through the photos of exotic countries I was completely transported there. I forgot about the rain. That´s when I came across pictures of the Maldives. Azure water, snowy white sand, wooden houses with straw roofs on the seaside, a palm tree here and there. But, strangely, no photo with even a hint of tourists; it was pure paradise. One part of the article talked about the Maldivian cuisine and with no great surprise I spent the rest of the evening doing some research into this exotic Maldivian cuisine. The next morning I could not wait and immediately tried this tuna recipe. I couldn´t imagine the combination of canned tuna and grated coconut, but the result was mmmmmmmmm, yummy! I have already prepared it for some of my friends and no one guessed that there was any coconut in the recipe. The closest guess was my friend Nicol. She said „there is something you put in these cakes“, meaning probably the coconut rather then tuna. I called it „salad“ as a „spread“ doesn´t exactly fit the consistency, but I serve it on a crispy toasted piece of bread anyways.

Maldivian cuisine receives a strong influence from India and Sri Lanka cuisines. Both are based mostly on fish. Thanks to its location south-west to India in the Indian ocean there are mostly tunas present. They do not use much vegetables, and the weather is most suitable for the cultivation of rice. Seasonings come mostly from India, with different curries and masalas, and coconut and lemon are often used. Alcohol is however strongly banned as the Maldives are Muslim, the closest approach to alcohol is their typical tea made by fermenting palm leaves, the fermentation producing subtle amounts of alcohol. For desserts they use mostly local, for us exotic, fruits like bananas, mango or papaya with different custards and rice puddings.

Maldivian Tuna Salad

Ingredients:

Ingredients
Ingredients

  • 3 tins (240g) of tuna in olive oil, whole pieces
  • ½ of small onion (or spring onion)
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 5 tablespoons of grated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • Lemon juice, from ¼  lemon

Directions:

  1. Chop the onion  finely. Cut the tomatoes in halves, separate the seeds and cut into small dices (about 0,5cm)
  2. Put tuna in a bowl together with oil from the can. If using the natural one, add about 4 table spoons of olive oil
  3. Add the soy sauce and lemon juice to the bowl with tuna and incorporate well, add both onion and tomatoes and mix again
  4. Finally mix in also the grated coconut and let the flavors combine for at least 15 minutes. The coconut absorbs a lot of moisture so add some additional olive oil if needed
  5. Serve on a pre-toasted bread

Serve on a pretoasted bread
Serve on a pre-toasted bread

A Closer Look at Tuna

  • The skin of fresh tuna is extremely tough
  • Regarding nutrition, tuna is a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty-acids, the level depends on the manufacturing method
  • Scientists argue on the amount of mercury present in tuna, it is not recommended for

    Tuna
    Tuna

    pregnant women to consume tuna in large volumes

  • There are different varieties of tuna, the flesh color ranging from light, almost white, to dark that when fresh has the color of fresh beef meat. Here are the types of tuna you usually encounter:

Bluefin Tuna – the biggest sort, usually used for steaks, sold fresh in filets. Contains more fat, thus more flavor

Yellowfin Tuna – is less expensive than the bluefin one, is often canned, and compared with albacore has more flavor

Skipjack Tuna – the smallest variety with the largest amount of fat and strongest flavor. The name refers to its movement, they often „skip“ out of the water

Albacore Tuna – has the lightest flesh and not very strong flavor, also often canned

Canned tuna

  • Tuna has been canned since 1908
  • You can find the canned tuna in large pieces or with chunky or even flaky texture, I do not especially trust the flaky ones, I recommend the whole unbroken pieces even to salads

Comparing the calories of canned Tuna 

  • Tuna canned in water (80g) 102 cal
  • Sardines in water (80g) 122 cal
  • Tuna canned in oil (80g) 148 cal
  • Baked salmon (80g) 162 cal