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Curried Tuna Salad

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

What could be easier than making tuna salad?  Okay, peanut butter and jelly, but that’s because you don’t have to open a can. Believe me, there were days in my youth when I would open a can of generic tuna and mix a couple of packets of mayonnaise that I lifted from Burger King. That was lunch… or dinner depending on what time it was. Didn’t always know where my next meal was coming from.

Things changed when I started working at restaurants.  My first restaurant job was in 1970 at the Top of the Hub in Boston. Working nights however was cutting into my party time and I was missing out on some major fun.  I quit and got a day job working at the B&R Deli, in Roxbury in time to see Janis Joplin at Harvard Stadium for two bucks.  It was a simpler time.

funny Keynote Speaker curried tuna

My good friend Ron Morecraft did the photos for the cookbook.

From 1976 until 1985 I worked at the Soho Charcuterie in New York City and was a model employee. Good and fast at what I did plus I showed up on time.  And in turn the owners gave me great freedom and responsibility.

I could leave  (with notice) for months at a time and when I got back, I’d have a job cooking brunch the very next Sunday. By the middle of the following week, I’d picked up a couple of shifts and after two weeks I was working as many hours as I wanted.

The turnover in the restaurant business is seriously high. People get burned out, wacked out and spaced out. Some people just suck. Others find a better if not different restaurant to go to and some, get cast in a show.

One of the positions I held was doing prep for the Salad Chef. The Charcuterie had a large deli case full of salads, pates and deserts.  I would bake then skin the chicken breasts, chop the shallots and make the tarragon mayo that was mixed with the chicken.  The curried tuna salad recipe below is inspired by the one we made at the Charcuterie. I didn’t do the math, but as far as I can tell it’s gluten free.

Recipe written below the video:

Curried Tuna Salad
3 cans tuna, solid white, packed in water
4 stalks celery chopped fine
4 scallions chopped fine with the greens
1 cup mayonnaise
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
4 – 6 oz Major Grey chutney depending on how sweet you like the salad.
    The better the chutney the better the final product
1/2 cup raisins
1 apple chopped fine (optional)

1/2 cup (cause I like them) toasted pine nuts for garnish
1 additional chopped scallion for garnish

Mix the chopped scallion and celery into the mayo. Add the curry powder, cumin, salt and chutney and stir.  Add the curry mayonnaise to the drained canned tuna and fold in the raisins. Spoon the salad onto lettuce leaves and garnish with additional chopped scallions and toasted pine nuts. Add some sliced tomatoes and serve it up. Also makes a great sandwich.

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