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Tuna and Mayonnaise Sandwiches

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The tuna and mayonnaise sandwich, in the eyes (and mouths) of some, is one of the most amazing concepts ever conceived. Consisting of tuna, mayonnaise and bread, and with a range of optional additions, you can enjoy one as a snack at any time.

Let's have a closer look at the main ingredients.


Tuna is a type of fish, part of the Scombridae family that also includes mackerel. The significant size of the average tuna fish often surprises people, all too used to scooping the processed remains of the fish out of small cans. If you're not really a 'foodie' you may never see one whole. A fully grown bluefin tuna can grow in excess of ten feet (three metres) in length.

In The Wild

Tuna can be found in most of the world's seas, apart from those at the poles. Migratory fish, tuna migrate once a year according to the warm and cold seasons. Unfortunately, the popularity of tuna and mayonnaise sandwiches (among other uses for tuna) has contributed to over-fishing and the decline of the species. The varieties of tuna most popular for eating include the yellowfin, bigeye and bluefin.

In A Can

You can find canned tuna stored in water, brine (salt water) or some type of vegetable oil, probably sunflower. If you put drained canned tuna in a sandwich you may find it quite dry, which may lead you to mix it with something moist like mayonnaise.

If you buy tuna, it is important to only buy tuna that is marked as 'dolphin friendly'. This tuna has been caught using methods that do not harm dolphins.


Mayonnaise1 is a mixture of egg yolk, vegetable oil, mustard and vinegar. You may wish to make your own mayonnaise, but it is available from a multitude of retailers in either glass jars or squeezy plastic bottles.

Whether you choose jar or squeezy bottles comes down to personal preference. You may find it easier to get mayonnaise out of jars, even though the squeezy bottles are supposed to be more convenient to use. Extracting mayonnaise from a jar may necessitate the use of a long-handled spoon or knife, especially if you are coming near to the end of the jar. If you're particularly conscious of the environmental impact of packaging, you may prefer the jar simply because it's made of glass rather than squeezy plastic.


It is important to choose the right sort of bread for your sandwich. The bread you choose will depend on personal preference to some extent, but you should also try to bear in mind that a tuna and mayonnaise sandwich can become rather soggy over time, so it is best made on a substantial bread, such as a seeded brown loaf, rather than a white sliced processed bread. You can enhance your sandwich-making experience substantially by buying a whole loaf from which you can cut slices to match your own specifications, adjusting thickness depending on the consistency of your filling.

How to Make Your Sandwich

There are two ways in which you could make your tuna and mayonnaise sandwich2. The first is the classic 'mix' method, where the tuna and mayonnaise are pre-mixed in a bowl before being spread on the bread. In the second method the mayonnaise is spread on the bread first, followed by a layer of tuna on top. It is up to the indivdual as to which method is used.

Vital Preparation

Possibly the most important thing to remember when making a tuna and mayonnaise sandwich is that you must drain the tin of tuna. Failure to do so will result in an extremely soggy and possibly inedible sandwich. Once the tuna is drained you can follow either of the methods described.

You will also need to decide whether or not you are also going to spread some kind of margarine or butter on your bread, before adding the tuna and mayonnaise. If you choose to use a spread this will make a difference to the calorie content of your sandwich. Although butter or margarine are usually used to stop a sandwich from becoming dry, it is probably unnecessary to add either of these to your sandwich, as the mayonnaise should keep the sandwich nice and moist.

If you plan to add sweetcorn to the sandwich it can be added to the tuna or tuna and mayonnaise mix at this stage.

You should also decide (or experiment with) the ratio of tuna to mayonnaise included in your mix. Factors that may influence his or her decision include dietary requirements, like or dislike of mayonnaise and/or tuna3, how long the sandwich will remain before being eaten (mayonnaise can help prevent sandwiches drying out), and how much mayonnaise there is left in the jar.

A Shortcut Too Far

Certain retailers and supermarkets sell tuna and mayonnaise ready mixed in small plastic tubs or jars, 'for your convenience'. Given the relative cheapness and simplicity involved in creation of your own mix - blended and seasoned to taste - this might seem like an odd offering, but those bereft of any time to do anything except breathing might succumb to purchase of such a mixture. Do so at your own risk - as your complete lack of involvement in the preparation means that you cannot hold anyone but yourself responsible if you ultimately find your sandwich unpalatable.

Preparing Your Sandwich

You will need:

  • Bread
  • Tuna
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mixing bowl and fork/spoon to mix (optional)
  • Can opener, if you have an old-style can of tuna (optional)
  • Margarine, butter or similar spread (optional)
  • Knife or spatula, for spreading
  • Knife, a nice sharp one, for cutting bread
  • Sweetcorn and/or salad (optional)
  • Seasoning, to taste
  • Clingfilm, greaseproof paper or sandwich bag, if you don't intend to eat the sandwich straightaway (optional)

Now for the easy bit:

  1. Mix tuna, mayonnaise and other ingredients (to taste), as appropriate
  2. Place a slice of bread down on a cutting board (or a surface you don't mind potentially slicing into with a sharp knife
  3. Spread a thin layer of margarine or butter on to bread (optional)
  4. Slather your mayonnaise and tuna mixture on to the bread (or layer the ingredients, if not pre-mixed)
  5. Add salad and/or sweetcorn, if desired (unless you already mixed sweetcorn into the mix)
  6. Fold over bread (if using only one slice) or place another slice of bread on top (if using more than one slice)
  7. Cut sandwich (optional)

If using the two-slice method you may wish to cut your sandwich in half, into triangles or rectangles, depending on preference. Some sandwich eaters prefer to cut their sandwiches into quarters, creating smaller triangles, or squares. When offering sandwiches to children or elderly people it may be best to cut them into smaller portions.

Bon Appetit

Once the sandwiches have been cut according to preference or need, serve them up and enjoy them! You may want to have napkins or paper towels to hand, as depending on the consistency of your tuna and mayonnaise mixture, you might experience a degree of drippage while enjoying your sandwich4.

1Also known as mayo, for short.2Admittedly, other less conventional ways of making a sandwich may exist - like pinning the bread to a wall and catapulting the tuna and majonnaise mixture at the slice with a tablespoon - but, this Researcher will stick to the more mundane methods of sandwich preparation.3Though, to be honest, if you dislike both mayonnaise and tuna, you may wish to find a completely different sandwich-filling altogether!4If you're particularly hungry, you may want to have the napkins to hand earlier in the process to help soak up any excess drool produced in the midst of preparation.

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