Mix Canned Sardines Into Your Tuna Salad For An Upgraded Dish

While it may be a lunchtime staple for many people, plain tuna salad can also become a little one-note over time. Fortunately, another type of canned fish can be used to spruce up a traditional tuna salad recipe for a bolder, unforgettable flavor. Canned sardines make for a great addition to tuna salad, and you can ultimately decide whether you want a substantial change to the flavor of the dish or just a little boost. It's all about how much of the new ingredient you add.

Sardines are beloved for their rich, hearty texture, and subtle fish flavor that is punctuated by a pleasant brininess. Some people mistakenly believe that this canned seafood is similar to anchovies, which are best known for what some might consider an overwhelmingly salty flavor profile. However, the flavor of sardines is a lot milder in comparison, which means they can be easily added to other dishes, such as tuna salad.

How to incorporate sardines based on your taste preferences

While it's true that sardines aren't quite as potent as anchovies (as illustrated by the numerous differences between anchovies and sardines), they offer a stronger flavor than canned tuna. Albacore is a popular variety of canned tuna and known for having a somewhat subtle flavor that lacks the fishiness of other types of canned fish. Because sardines have a more intense taste, their impact on your tuna salad is dependent on how much or little you add.

For instance, some versions call for using a 2 to 1 ratio of tuna to sardines. In this case, you can expect a potently flavored dish in which the sardines make their presence known. Of course, you could always flip that script and let the sardines to take center stage. If you'd prefer a subtler fish flavor and tempered brininess, however, you'll want to reduce the amount of sardines used by at least half, if not more. Because these canned fish have a stronger flavor than tuna, even a couple of fillets can have a noticeable impact on the flavor.

Other ingredients to add to your tuna-sardine salad

Along with their impactful flavor, sardines are also well known for their texture, which can be described as oily (especially if they come packed in oil rather than water). Acidic ingredients serve as the perfect counterbalance to this oiliness, which means that tuna-sardine salad really sings when a bit of lemon juice is incorporated into the recipe. Vinegar is another option and using red wine vinegar will increase the flavor complexity of the dish thanks to its punchy, fruity notes. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, consider adding capers, which can be used in all kinds of ways — whether you're adding them in whole or mixing in a splash of the brine.

As for other additions, red onions are flavorful enough to stand up against the strong flavor of sardines. Avocados are another welcome ingredient, as they can lend a substantial amount of creaminess to the dish. Mayo is a standard addition to tuna salad, but you can swap the condiment for aioli, which offers a more nuanced flavor thanks to the inclusion of garlic. While sardines may be a bit polarizing, these flavorful fish are just the thing to liven up ho-hum tuna salad.