Horseradish Is The Spicy Ingredient That Gives Tuna Salad A Subtle Kick

Cool, creamy tuna salad is a comforting, crowd-pleasing option for lunch, but it can sometimes be a little lackluster or, dare we say it, even bland. If you're after an extra pop of flavor, you can upgrade tuna salad sandwiches with an umami-packed ingredient such as fish sauce, or add a little heat with chili flakes. But to really add some bite, try incorporating horseradish.

The punchy, pungent properties of horseradish are not especially surprising given that the white root comes from the same family as wasabi and mustard. Freshly grated horseradish has a hot, peppery, and powerfully robust aroma and taste that may take a little getting used to if you're not familiar with it. But you can also buy horseradish in a jar, either labeled as 'prepared' (the fresh root mixed with vinegar) or as a creamy sauce — both of which are less harsh than the raw root. A jar of horseradish lasts around six months in the fridge, making it a handy staple.

When it comes to tuna salad, jarred horseradish is certainly easier — in terms of both availability and preparation — than fresh, and adds a subtle spiciness that perfectly complements the delicate taste of the fish without overpowering it. As for how much to use, it depends on personal preference. Start with a tablespoon each of mayo and horseradish sauce for a six-ounce can of tuna. If using prepared horseradish, try using slightly less and adjust the ratios as desired.

Pair horseradish with citrus for the ultimate tuna salad

Hot horseradish works beautifully with slightly sweet, creamy tuna salad, as well as in other fish dishes such as homemade mackerel salad with horseradish crème fraîche. But to really make tuna salad sing, it's worth incorporating citrus, too. It boosts the taste of the individual components and brings more overall balance to the mixture.

A squeeze of lemon gives a fresh, bright note, pairing perfectly with the spicy, peppery flavor of the horseradish. Plus, the citrus also enhances the taste of the fish thanks to the way the acidity counters saltiness. You could try switching lemon for lime juice to add another tangy dimension.

Tuna, horseradish, and citrus can form the basis of other dishes beyond salad, too. Try incorporating the three ingredients in a smoothly blended tuna and horseradish pâté humming with fresh lemon juice and vibrant zest; it's delicious spread on crackers or on toasted crostini as a party snack.

A fresh-tasting lemon and horseradish sauce can elevate broiled fresh tuna steaks as well as the canned variety; combine prepared horseradish with Greek yogurt, lemon juice and zest, and perhaps a little mustard, and vinegar if you really want to ramp up the spicy, tangy flavors. Or try a homemade tuna niçoise salad dressed with a mixture of horseradish sauce, the juice and zest of a lemon, and extra virgin olive oil for a hot take on a classic combo.