Tuna from a can (or pouch) for dinner sounds like a last-minute meal on a night when you can’t be bothered to make much more than a sandwich. But it doesn’t always have to be this way.
Here is a recipe for Crispy Tuna Sliders that turns this pantry staple into something so flavorful, so good, that it’s hard to believe where you started. It’s a recipe with a rather long list of ingredients, even after leaving a couple out (I’m looking at you, celery seed). It’s worth it.
We start with the slaw. Red cabbage shredded and drenched in a tasty poppy seed dressing. The dressing is fantastic with the freshness of lime juice and earthy poppy seeds. Leftovers would be great on other salads.
For the cabbage, don’t use a cheese grater because it will cut the cabbage too small and steal a lot of crunch. Cut the small cabbage in half and cut thin slices. Pull those big slices apart with your hands and you’ll have shredded cabbage.
Have you watched Nadia G’s show, Bitchin Kitchen? She’s wild and totally weird. There’s killer eye makeup and no shortage of shots of her high heels. A half-naked food correspondent named Hans and a menu dedicated to break-ups. She uses enough strange slang to call for a mini dictionary in her cookbook. It’s a fantastic little world, and I’m not totally sure that I like it all. But don’t let the clothes and the accent distract you from Nadia’s food, which always looks delicious. This is the first of her recipes that I tried, and it’s excellent.
The tuna patties taste fresh and a bit spicy from the cayenne and red chile pepper. That purple-red cabbage makes for some seriously pretty slaw, especially against the flecks of green onion and parsley. The slaw and a slight crust on the patty add crunch. I could see these crispy tuna sliders being served from the window a food truck.
There are a lot of steps in the preparation, but these sliders are delicious. The garlic-chile-celery mixture smells amazing while it’s cooking. Making sliders for four seems just as feasible as making enough for a party of 24. I’ll definitely make these sliders again.
There’s only one thing I’d change about this recipe. Next time I’ll find a better bun and try toasting it. These tuna patties with slaw deserve something good.
poppy seed slaw
This pretty purple slaw looks delicious against the tuna sliders, and the poppy seeds add texture and a slight nutty flavor.
1 small red cabbage, shredded
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 fresh lime, juiced
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Toss the shredded red cabbage, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, allowing it to brine.
Combine the poppy seeds, mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lime juice, 1/2 tablespoon sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper in a jar. Close the jar and shake until it’s well mixed (or stir well if you can’t find the lid). Pour the dressing over the slaw and add parsley. Toss everything to combine. Keep slaw in the fridge until the tuna patties are ready.
crispy tuna sliders
This is the best thing I’ve ever made with canned tuna. The sliders are fresh and full of flavor from herbs, garlic, and spices.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 big garlic clove, minced
1 fresh red chile pepper, minced
1 rib celery, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 green onions, finely sliced
1/4 cup of minced fresh parsley
4 cans or 4 packets or about 12 ounces of tuna packed in water, drained
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs, though you could also use regular bread
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 slider buns
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, red chile pepper, rib of celery, cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic won’t burn. Take the pan off the heat and let the garlic mixture cool for about 10 minutes.
Whisk together the egg, cream, Dijon mustard, green onions, 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, the garlic mixture, and a pinch each of sea salt and black pepper in a large bowl. Fold in the tuna and breadcrumbs.
Lightly flour your hands and shape about 1/4 cup of tuna mixture into a patty. Repeat with the rest of the tuna mixture. Dredge the patties in flour before putting them in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
Heat 1/2 inch of oil over medium-high heat in a large pan, and fry the tuna patties for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Drain the patties on paper towels.
Place each tuna patty on a slider bun and top with poppy seed slaw to serve.
Makes 8 sliders and enough slaw to serve 4. Adapted from “Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble” by Nadia G.