The Ultimate Tuna Melt

This is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches! So excited, I love a good Tuna Melt!!! This diner-staple is absolutely iconic. When deciding on how I wanted to proceed with an ultimate tuna melt, I still wanted to honor most of the traditions; cheddar cheese, thick slices of tomato, and buttery-crunchy sourdough, with just a little twist. Instead of the blasé canned tuna, we thought it would be fun to go all-out with grilled Yellowfin Tuna steaks! 

 

The Legend of the Tuna Melt 

Legend has it that around the mid-1960’s, at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Charleston, SC, the Tuna Melt was invented. Allegedly, while one of the cooks was assembling some grilled cheese sandwiches, a bowl of tuna salad tumbled onto the griddle, covering the grilled cheeses. It must have been a very busy day at the lunch counter, because, instead of simply remaking a new batch of sandwiches, the cook served these tuna-gilled cheese hybrids. And, being not completely verifiable, as they say, the Tuna Melt was born. There’s also another rumor that Kraft, during a marketing campaign to promote their brand new product, Velveeta, created the Tuna Melt to showcase the melting prowess of this processed cheese. 

 

Yellowfin for the Win 

Yellowfin is a species of tuna found in sub-tropical and tropical oceans. They are, what I’ll call, a mid-sized tuna species, averaging about 400lbs (where bluefin tuna can weigh in upwards of 900+lbs). Their name comes from the brightly colored dorsal fin and tail fins, which are a bright and vibrant yellow. You may have also heard Yellowfin tuna referred to as Ahi or Ahi tuna. Same fish, it is just that Ahi was the name given to this species of tuna by the Hawaiians. 

Yellowfin really is a superior-tasting tuna. Firm and meaty with a moderate flavor, distinctively non-fishy, that is sure to please many palates.   

 

The Ultimate Tuna Melt Recipe

The Ultimate Tuna Melt

We are going for maximum flavor. Infusing our tuna steaks with oodles of Old Bay, lemon, and garlic before adding that distinct smoky-char from the grill. This series of recipes will make enough components for 4 sandwiches. 

Ingredients

Marinated and Grilled Tuna Steaks

  • 1 lb. Tuna Steaks 2 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon garlic peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

The Ultimate Tuna Salad

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons celery minced
  • 2 tablespoons red onion minced
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickles minced
  • 2 teaspoons dill pickle juice
  • 2 teaspoons caper berries
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 lb. Marinated and grilled Tuna Steaks see above
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Making the Melts

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 8 slices sourdough bread
  • 8 slices cheddar cheese
  • Tuna Steak Salad see above
  • 8 slices vine-ripened tomatoes

Instructions

Marinated and Grilled Tuna Steaks

  1. Place tuna steaks in a large casserole dish or shallow bowl, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and season with garlic and Old Bay. Gently rub the seasoning into the steaks, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour (maximum 2 hours).
  2. Preheat one side of a gas grill to medium-high heat or prep charcoals for a charcoal grill (once the charcoals are hot, push them over to one side of your grill).
  3. Remove the tuna from the marinade, letting any excess marinade drip off of the steaks, and place on the “hot” side of your grill.
  4. Sear for 1-2 minutes per side, just until grill marks form, then transfer the steaks to the side of the grill not directly over the heat source. Continue to cook until the internal temperature of your tuna steaks reaches 145°F.
  5. Remove from the grill and set aside to rest and cool before flaking with a fork.

The Ultimate Tuna Salad

  1. Place the mayo, celery, onion, pickles, pickle juice, capers, Dijon, and parsley in a medium-large bowl, and whisk until blended.
  2. Add the flaked tuna steak to the bowl and gently stir to combine.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to assemble the sandwiches (can be refrigerated for 2 days).

Making the Melts

  1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in an extra large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Place 2 slices of sourdough bread into the skillet and top each with 1 slice of cheese.
  3. Divide, approximately, 1 to 1 1/2 cups of tuna salad between the sandwiches, top each with 2 slices of tomato, and another slice of cheese. Place another slice of bread on top and gently press down using a spatula.
  4. Toast on each side for 3-4 minutes or until the bread golden brown and the cheese has melted.
  5. Remove these sandwiches from the skillet (you can keep them warm in a 200°F oven) and repeat the process for the remaining ingredients. Serve toasty and warm.

 

Tuna for You-na 

Order your Yellowfin Tuna Steaks online from Cameron’s Seafood and get fast, home delivery anywhere in the USA. You’ll be stocked and ready to rock in no time, especially with our 1-2 day shipping. I can taste those Ultimate Tuna Melts now….nom nom nom. 

Are you a fan of Tuna Melts? Should we start a club? A Tuna Melt Appreciation Group, or, a Tuna Melt Society? Should we be called ‘Tun-sters’ or ‘Melties’….? I really think we could get a serious fan group going. We’re @cameronsseafoodonline on Instagram and @CameronsSeafood on Facebook, let us know what you think! 

About the author

Patterson Watkins is a professional chef with over 17 years of experience. With a robust career in restaurants, contract dining and catering (including 4 Summer Olympic posts preparing food for the athletes!) Patterson joined the Cameron’s Seafood team at the end of 2018 to concoct some delicious recipes with our premium seafood items as the centerpiece.

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