It takes a lot for a recipe to be worthy of the "Hot Thai" designation. My Hot Thai Chicken recipe was the first to be released to rave reviews, and it now has over 1 million views. This dish deserves this title because it transforms the humble canned tuna into a dish that is bursting with flavours. It has all the iconic flavours of Thai food that we love: red curry, lemongrass, makrut lime leaves, and even has extra "loog doad" chilies! (More on that in the video.) It's also healthy, gluten-free, and can be done in less than 30 minutes!
Inspired By a Southern Thai Dish: Kua Gling
The idea for this dish came to me because I was thinking about a fiercely spicy southern Thai dish called kua gling where ground meat is stir fried with a southern style curry paste. I was looking for something to do with canned tuna, and my mind connected the dots. After trying it, I was pleased to discover that the combination worked incredibly well.
What You'll Need
Step-By-Step: How to Make Hot Thai Tuna
Be sure to check out the detailed recipe and full video tutorial in the recipe card below - but here's a bird's eye view of what you'll need to do.
How to Serve Hot Thai Tuna
For those unfamiliar with the Thai way of eating, you might be looking at a pile of tuna on a plate and wonder how exactly you're supposed to tackle it! Well as with all other Thai dishes, the answer is: with rice.
In Thai we have this term kluk kao which means to toss something with plain rice. Some Thai dishes are just perfect for "klukking" with "kao", especially ones that are spicy and intensely flavoured, and this is one of them.
But it is more versatile than that! Here are a few ways I can think of using your Hot Thai Tuna:
- Toss with jasmine rice.
- Eat with plain congee (this is my favourite way)
- Add to scrambled eggs
- Use as a filling for omelettes or quesadillas
- Eat with something creamy like mayo or avocado. This works really well as the dish is dry. Try filling a sandwich or top an avocado toast?
How to Choose Sustainable Tuna
When tuna is irresponsibly caught, it can be highly destructive to the marine ecosystem. Depending on the gear used, juvenile fish or some endangered species can be accidentally caught and killed. So when shopping, look at cans that say pole-caught, troll-caught, pole and line caught, FAD-free, school caught, free school, or unassociated, or look for eco-certification labels by the Marine Stewardship Council.
I highly recommend reading this short article by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program which gives tips on what to look for when buying canned tuna. And click around the site while you're there for other useful info on the subject.
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HOT THAI TUNA! Stir Fried Tuna in Red Curry
Semi-Homemade Southern Thai Curry Paste
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 ½ inch turmeric root, sliced (see note*)
- 3 tablespoon red curry paste
- 1 teaspoon fermented shrimp paste (gapi)
Hot Thai Tuna
- 2 cans tuna, no salt added, 260g total drained weight
- 2-3 tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 stalk lemongrass, bottom half only, thinly sliced
- 3-4 makrut lime leaves, thick stems removed, thinly julienned
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar, finely chopped
- Fish sauce, to taste
- Chopped cilantro garnish, optional
- Red and green chilies for garnish, optional (see note**)
- Jasmine rice or congee for serving, or see above for other suggestions
- * If you don't have fresh turmeric, substitute 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric.
- ** You can add a small handful of whole red or green Thai chilies which people can eat for extra heat (see video for more about this) or if you just want the colour without the heat, use bell pepper.
FULL VIDEO TUTORIAL
All my recipes come with step-by-step video tutorials with extra tips not mentioned in the blog post, so make sure you watch the video to ensure success. If you enjoy them, consider subscribing to the YouTube Channel to not miss an episode. Thank you!Subscribe to my YouTube Channel
Make the curry paste:
- Grind the black peppercorns in a mortar until fine. Add the turmeric and grind into a fine paste. Add red curry paste and shrimp paste and pound to mix.
Make the stir fry:
- If your tuna was packed in water, add 3 tablespoon of oil to a wok. If the tuna was packed in oil, you can reduce the amount you add to 2 Tbsp. Add the curry paste, turmeric and black pepper in a wok and saute for 2 mins over medium heat until aromatic.
- Add the palm sugar and stir until dissolved.
- If it looks a little dry, you can add a small splash of water to loosen the paste so it will mix more easily with the tuna, then add the tuna and mix well until the curry paste is evenly distributed. Keep stirring until the tuna is dry and crumbly.
- Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, and chilies if using them; toss just to mix and turn off the heat.
- Taste and add fish sauce as needed. It's important to taste before adding fish sauce because some curry pastes are already quite salty to start.
- Toss in cilantro if you wish, and serve.
This was a very nice, recipe, but I ran into trouble with the salt levels of store-bought red curry paste, which vary wildly. I used a paste with 11.8% salt - Cock Brand - and that along with shrimp paste but no added fish sauce made the end result too salty to be eaten as a main (2-3% salt in final product). By the time I realized it was already too late, but using homemade or other brands with much lower salt levels (saw some at 5%), would fix the issue.
Thank you so much for this unique recipe! I love that I can make it in 5 minutes with just pantry ingredients and a couple fresh herbs! It is SO spicy with homemade curry paste, but I tried it once with storebought Maesri paste and it wasn’t as good. So I suffer with a tall glass of water. I find myself craving this once a week now either with plain sticky rice or on top of my congee.
Hello - I discovered Hot Thia Kitchen several months ago on YouTube and this is one of my favorite dishes! I have also made this with ground turkey breast - delicious!
Our local Asian grocery store recently ran out of fresh lime leaves, so I purchased dried lime leaves instead. Can anyone tell me how I might apply dried lime leaves in this recipe (and in general)?
So glad to hear! Dried lime leaves are a bit tricky to use, so in this recipe, I would grind it up into a powder and toss it into the stir fry. For soups you can break them into smaller pieces and let them simmer and rehydrate in the soup.
Do you think this will work with canned salmon?
Is there anything else we can use instead of Tuna? Hubby loves all the ingredients here BUT tuna! We love all your recipes - Your woon Sen and Kra Pow are requested every holiday and are KoonYai approved!
Make it for him, and don't tell him it's tuna. The curry, lemongrass and lime leaf flavors are so strong you don't taste fish.
So quick and easy and delicious!
I love all your recipes, but this one... wow! So much flavour and so easy to make. A dish I can put together at any time, as long as I keep some cans of tuna in stock. Other ingredients like the lemon grass and tumeric I have on stock in the freezer.
Second time now I made it, and it's so great. Thanks!
Adam The HTK Minion
Awesome to hear!! ... an lol I might actually try to make this 🙂 Cheers!
would you recommend to use the homemade curry paste you made in the “real” Kia Gling recipe?
And if so, how many tbsp of the ready Kay Gling curry paste would you use for the tuna recipe?
TIA for your answer and greetings from Munich, Germany!
I hate the autocorrect btw…
Kia = Kua and Kay = Kua 🙄😂
Hmmm, I would say make the whole recipe, but maybe only use about ⅔ of it to cook with to start just to make sure it's not too spicy. Then if you need more, saute the remaining paste separately and mix it in.
I never leave a replay, but now I have to do!
I made already a lot off your recepies and they all are very good. They really taste the same as in Thailand.
This Hot Thai tuna is gonna be for sure one off our favorite!
Pad krapow is for us number one.
Many greetings from the Netherlands, Els Langevelt
Fantastic thank you for the review!!
This is ridiculously easy, and the flavor is terrific! Here in the USA ingredients can be hard to find, depending on where you live, but I now have packets of lemongrass and magrut lime leaves in my freezer and turmeric root is getting more common.