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The Hirshon Tuna Melt

  • Prep Time: 0 hours
  • Cook Time: 0 hours
  • Total Time: 0 hours


  • 1 can (6 oz) top-quality solid packed white albacore tuna in oil
  • 2 ½ Tbs Best Foods mayonnaise or to your taste
  • ½ Tbs plain rendered pure chicken fat (schmaltz) or to your taste
  • finely minced shallot (alternatively, mild white or Maui onion), to taste
  • finely minced celery (de-stringed), to taste
  • Wickles sweet pickle relish, to taste
  • A large pinch of curry powder
  • Dill sprigs
  • Paper-thin slices of cucumber
  • Thin slice of heirloom tomato, de-seeded
  • Mix of grated Gruyere and Beemster Vlaskaas Cheese (my personal blend) or grated cheddar if you’re feeling less adventurous
  • Romaine lettuce leaves


  1. Make the schmaltz by slowly cooking shredded chicken skin with a bit of oil, or buy some from your butcher – it is also sold jarred in many supermarkets.
  2. Drain tuna and place in mixing bowl. Break up and mash tuna with fork to remove clumps and make a spreadable consistency. Use a stirring motion to flake the tuna as fine as possible. Mix in the mayo. Then add and mix in ONLY enough schmaltz until tuna achieves a rich taste.
  3. Mix in celery, relish and shallot. Add curry powder. Mix again.
  4. The important part:
  5. Tuna should neither be flavored with either too much mayo or schmaltz. You shouldn’t be aware of any blatant schmaltz taste in the tuna.
  6. You can make a tuna melt that stays crunchy without the tuna getting hot by using my hybrid method.
  7. Butter one side of a piece of top-quality bread (I prefer potato bread (old-school!) or artisanal sourdough and occasionally rye), and brown that side on a griddle.
  8. Then put it on a rack in a sheet pan and top with tuna salad and cheese. Run it under the broiler and you have an open faced sandwich with a crunchy bottom layer.
  9. The rack is crucial, because if you just put the bread on the pan, the heat from the cooking can make the bread steam and get soggy.
  10. Add a few sprigs of dill, the tomato slice, cucumber slices and a piece of Romaine lettuce on top. Top with another piece of pan-griddled bread.
  11. Serve with a dill pickle spear and potato chips plus a side of good childhood memories.
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