A few weeks ago our Lifetime Fitness location hosted a Culinary Night that was sponsored by Toyota, and Michael and I thought it would be fun to see the cooking demonstration, which featured dishes from the LifeCafe. There were plenty of samples to go around and everyone received a handout with recipes, so of course we decided to try some at home. Of all the things we sampled, our favorite was the popular Asian tuna salad, which the cafe serves on ciabatta rolls or as a green salad topping.
The tuna gets a little kick from Sambal Oelek, an Indonesian condiment made from very hot chiles, vinegar, and salt. Sambals vary between countries and regions, and use a variety of chiles, spices, and many other ingredients, so depending on what you have a taste for and what your local Asian grocery store stocks, you can spice up sandwiches and other dishes in dozens of different ways. Just be prepared because this is spicy stuff.
Other samples we tried included the Santa Fe Salad, Southwest Wrap, Turkey Avocado Sandwich, and the Chicken Pesto Pizza, so it’s a good thing we skipped dinner that night.
The recipe as distributed at the demonstration yielded a tuna that was much wetter than the version served in the cafe, plus it was much, much spicier, so we adjusted the ingredients amounts to hopefully come closer to the tuna we sampled. The flavor is very good and it makes a delicious stuffing for lettuce wraps, tortillas, tomatoes, on top of cucumber slices for an appetizer, as well as a salad topping. We’ve been stuffing our homegrown heirloom tomatoes with it, and the combination is terrific. Can you guess what kind of tomato is in the photo? It’s Michael’s favorite and we try to grow them every year. Because these tomatoes are sweet, we omit the honey in the tuna and really don’t miss it.
The tuna salad will keep for a day or so, but it tastes best on the day prepared.
Make It Gluten Free
Sambals are typically gluten free, though you will want to be careful and read the labels carefully to make sure the sambal you use is gluten-free.
[Disclosure: We are paying members of Lifetime Fitness, and the event was free and open to all members. This post is neither sponsored nor endorsed by Lifetime Fitness.]
Asian Tuna Salad (LifeCafe)
- 3-quart mixing bowl
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free sambal oelek (Indonesian chili paste, or more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon gluten-free soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
- 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
- 1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 24 ounces canned tuna (drained and chopped (LifeCafe uses white tuna, we opted for light.))
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- In the large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sambal oelek, sesame oil, soy sauce, honey, ginger, kosher salt, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes.
- Add the tuna, carrots, green onions, cilantro, and dried cranberries, then toss to mix well. Use as a stuffing for lettuce wraps, tortilla wraps, tomatoes, on top of thick sliced cucumbers, or on top of green salads.