From cheesy tuna melts and tuna salad sandwiches to a savory salad niçoise, canned tuna is a convenient, versatile, and delicious lunchtime staple. In fact, according to the National Fisheries Institute, canned tuna is the country’s second-most popular seafood, right after shrimp — which translates to 1 billion pounds of canned and pouched tuna consumed by Americans each year.
While it’s true that tuna is a beloved ingredient, it doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be improved from time to time. As Philadelphia restaurateur Steve Cook explained to Taste magazine, in the United States, canned tuna is often packed in water, a method that eliminates much of the tuna’s natural richness and often leaves the fish dry. There’s also a downside to canned tuna’s reliability and consistency: You might occasionally become bored with your traditional recipe.
According to Cook, there’s an easy fix to both of these problems: Add some canned sardines to your classic tuna salad.
Why sardines are a great addition to tuna salad
Sardines are a naturally oily, rich, fatty fish, which makes them a perfect remedy for canned tuna’s dryness, reported Taste. As Steve Cook explained to the publication, the trick is wildly simple: He just adds the sardines to his usual tuna salad recipe — which also calls for mayonnaise, mustard, sweet relish, red onion, celery, and herbs — and calls it a day.
Not only do sardines improve the taste and texture of tuna salad, but there’s also a practical benefit to including them. Because they’re a small fish that’s low on the food chain, sardines have lower levels of mercury than tuna, according to Taste. Cleveland Clinic explained this further, noting that, when it comes to fish, sardines have some of the highest omega-3 levels per serving while also having some of the lowest mercury levels. According to the hospital, because of this, they’re even safe for pregnant women to eat.
Mixing sardines with your tuna will also yield a more diverse nutritional profile. According to Livestrong, sardines contain more Vitamin E and calcium, while tuna offers higher levels of Vitamin K.