I’ve had this one on my mind for a while–a vegan “tuna” salad infused with Vietnamese flavors, like nước mắm! This is not traditional from my experience, and I tried to find some examples but couldn’t find that much online. However, I was particularly inspired by this account and recipe from Andrew Zimmern, influenced by his experience on a Vietnamese island. It sounded legit, so I decided to give it a try, with a plant-based twist! Can you guess what I used in place of tuna?
Surprise, it’s not chickpeas! Of course, I have nothing against chickpeas, and eat chickpea tuna salad pretty regularly. But I wanted to try something with a more neutral flavor this time, to pair with the delicate flavors of my vegan fish dipping sauce. So, this salad is made with cannellini beans, and hearts of palm! The use of hearts of palm for a fish substitute was inspired by Vegan Yack Attack and Olives for Dinner. Light, quick to assemble, and packed with protein, this makes for a great lunch.
Important Note: because of the delicate flavors of this salad, it’s best enjoyed on open-faced sandwiches and lettuce wraps! This is not your traditional tuna salad that goes in between two pieces of bread–the flavors may get drowned out (especially if you typically eat Ezekiel bread like me, haha). I do have a favorite go-to chickpea no-tuna salad that I turn to for sandwich needs; let me know if you want to see that on the blog soon.
Vietnamese Inspired Mock Tuna Salad
makes 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes
- 14 oz can cannellini beans, well drained
- 8.8 oz hearts of palm, well drained (it usually comes in a 14 oz can, but drained, it’s typically 8.8 oz)
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 small carrot, shredded*
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 4 tablespoons nước mắm chấm chay (vegan fish dipping sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon kelp granules**
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
- 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 2-3 Thai chili peppers, finely chopped (add less or more to your taste)
Notes: *The flavors will be even better if you have pickled carrots on hand! I like to shred my carrots and quick pickle them in my vegan fish dipping sauce. Not required, but HIGHLY recommended!
**Add more to your taste, if you like the fishy taste! I just wanted a hint of the ocean, as I’m not too big on the taste of seafood.
- Using a fork, roughly smash the cannellini beans on a cutting board, so that they become kind of flaky (not too much, or else it’ll become too creamy and become a dip).
- Using a fork, shred the hearts of palm. Cut into bite size pieces, or until desired fish-like texture.
- Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl or container. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Serve immediately, on toasted baguette rounds or in lettuce wraps! Store in the fridge for up to one week. This tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have been marinating a while.