Japanese Style Wasabi Tuna Boats – a Light, Fresh Appetizer for a Fresh New Year

Looking for a lighter nibble for your New Year’s gatherings? These simple Wasabi Tuna Boats fit the bill. If you’re a sucker for sushi, you’ll devour the light clean flavours of cucumbers, tuna, and seaweed, plus that fog-clearing jolt of wasabi. (Skip to recipe)

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How was your Christmas? Ours was a very special time shared with family old and new. We made beautiful new memories to weave into our treasured family tapestry of Christmases over the years. There were abundant warm hugs, some laughter, some tears, delicious food, singing – both joyful and reverent, toasting, glowing candlelight, and a whole lotta love to share around.

wasabi tuna boats - toasting in the candlelight on Christmas Eve

toasting in the candlelight on Christmas Eve

We have many very special Christmas traditions in our family, and there is vociferous complaint if we try and deviate from any of them. It starts long before Christmas with specific cooking and baking projects and many secret twitterings and tweakings. This year was different for us, though. In the months leading up to Christmas we dealt with the heartache of watching a most beloved uncle succumb to a devastating cancer, ending with us saying good-bye to him in the weeks just before Christmas. Coupled with losing my dear father-in-law earlier this year, it’s been an emotional Christmas – one that touched our heartstrings so much more deeply and made us feel even more strongly how precious every moment with family is.

wasabi tuna boats - Christmas tree bird ornament

wasabi tuna boats - Christmas nutcrackerswasabi tuna boats - snowman candles

wasabi tuna boats - Christmas baking

We had a house full of family over the holidays. My mom, sister and her family, and assorted partners of our children stayed over the holidays. Fourteen of us feasted on Fleisch Rouladen on Christmas Eve, and then I finally mastered roasting the goose for our traditional Christmas day dinner. For the past several years I’ve taken on the job (mom had always made it in the past), but every year that goose has been as tough as an old goat, no matter how I roasted it – with mom’s sauerkraut and prune stuffing or without, high heat or really low heat – yup, always tough. I was starting to lose heart that I’d ever be able to hold my head up high as I proudly carried the bronzed roast goose to the table. Well, I finally got it right this year! Moist, rich, succulent goose. The tradition can now continue!

wasabi tuna boats - roast goose dinner

the beautiful bird

All fourteen of us crowded into our living room and sang carols on Christmas Eve, both German and English, to the accompaniment of our daughters on piano and guitar. We opened gifts and shared laughter and joy until two in the morning. Such a special night. The blessings continued as we woke up to the overflowing stockings that Santa had stuffed in the night.

wasabi tuna boats - Christmas stockings

We then celebrated with a birthday breakfast for our oldest, lucky enough to be born on Christmas Day!

wasabi tuna boats appetizers; birthday cake for Zachary

and a birthday cake that evening

On Boxing Day we had more family over, and good times with a Mexican fiesta and wacky Christmas sweaters!

wasabi tuna boats ; wacky Christmas sweaters on Boxing Day

And just to keep us from getting too complacent, fate dealt us a small hiccup. On the 27th, when the mercury dipped down to -35°C at night, our furnace decided to cough its last cough. Yup, two nights without heat in a northern Alberta winter – and nine extra people sleeping in our home! We rounded up a brigade of space heaters, put on extra sweaters, and managed to keep it cozy enough to continue celebrating a warm and crazy family holiday. Then Santa brought us a belated . . . ahem . . . ‘gift’ of a new furnace, installed by two handy, insulated-coverall-clad elves. Thanks, Santa! 

The festivities aren’t over yet, though! Tomorrow we head up north to visit Raymond’s family and celebrate New Year’s with them. I’m looking forward to that.

wasabi tuna boats; red Christmas Balls

What are you doing for New Year’s Eve? Are you feasting with family or friends? Are you cozying up at home with warm fuzzy slippers and snacks? Or maybe you’re dancing the night away and ringing in the New Year with a big party?

We’ll be counting our blessings and feeling the gratitude that we can celebrate with loved ones.

And of course, there’ll be a little bit more noshing involved.

I’m sharing with you a lovely light appetizer that is a welcome nibble after the unbridled  feeding that’s been going on around here (maybe you had more restraint, and I applaud you for that). If you’re a sushi lover, you might like the fresh briny flavour of the tuna and seaweed laced with a mellow hit of wasabi, against the juicy crispness of a little cucumber boat – complete with a seaweed sail.

Where will you sail your boat this year? What shores will you visit and what mistrals will you follow? It’s time to lift anchor, catch the wind,  and follow your passions.

All the best to you in 2018!

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m guessing these little tuna boats would be divine with fresh, raw, sushi-grade tuna, diced small, instead of the canned tuna. I’ll be trying that soon!

wasabi tuna boats; hollowing out the cucumbers

hollow out the cucumber boats with a melon baller or small teaspoon

Option: Replace the wasabi with creamed horseradish and replace the seaweed with a few tablespoons of chopped parsley. Make the boat ‘sails’ from triangles cut from the cucumber peel trimmings you cut off to level the bottom of the boats.

Or use your favourite salmon salad or shrimp salad to fill the boats, instead of the tuna salad. You could even fill the boats with egg salad (making the sails from cucumber peel trimmings).

Japanese style wasabi tuna boats make a light appetizer

Japanese Style Wasabi Tuna Boats

  • 1 can (198gms/7oz) good quality tuna, preferably oil-packed
  • 3 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise, regular, full-fat
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1½ teaspoons wasabi paste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ sheet of sushi nori roasted seaweed (a 4×8-inch/10x20cm piece)
  • 1 large English cucumber (at least 13 inches/33cm long), or six 2-inch sections
  • 1 teaspoon white or black sesame seeds
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes for serving, optional

Drain the oil from the can of tuna. Mix together with the mayonnaise, minced onion, vinegar, wasabi paste, salt, and pepper.

Cut 6 one-inch (2.5cm) squares from the ½-sheet of seaweed with scissors. Then cut each square diagonally in half to form two ‘sails’. Set these sails aside for garnishing. Cut the remaining seaweed sheet into long thin strips with scissors, then pile the strips together and use the scissors to cut them into the bowl of tuna salad in small squares. Stir to combine everything.

Trim the ends off the cucumber, then cut it into 2-inch (5cm) sections. You should have six sections. Cut each section lengthwise in half to make two ‘boats’. Stand each boat on end, and trim a thin slice of peel off down the center of the rounded part of the boat, so that it can sit flat on the table, when placed cut side up. Using a melon baller or small teaspoon, scoop out the seeds from the each piece of cucumber, leaving a ¼-inch (.5cm) wall at each end of the boat.

Place one tablespoon of wasabi tuna filling into the scooped-out hollow of each boat, mounding the filling. Use a butter knife to press a shallow slit into the tuna salad where the sail will go, then press a seaweed triangle into the slit, using your fingers to lightly pinch the tuna salad around the base of the sail, to hold it up.

Set the wasabi tuna boats onto a serving platter. Cut the cherry tomatoes, if using, into halves and set them among the tuna boats. Sprinkle everything with the sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

To make ahead: Prepare the wasabi tuna salad (place the little sails into a sandwich baggie) and scoop out the cucumber boats. Store the tuna salad and cucumbers separately in sealed containers in the fridge for up to one day, and assemble just before serving.

Makes 12 appetizers.

Guten Appetit!

 

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Japanese Style Wasabi Tuna Boats make a light fresh appetizer! Great for New Year's Eve nibbling.

 

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6 Responses to Japanese Style Wasabi Tuna Boats – a Light, Fresh Appetizer for a Fresh New Year

  1. Elsa says:

    Thank you Margaret for sharing your family Christmas, the goose looks wonderful, and the new recipe will be great to use for the New Year!
    So glad that you got heat again in your house.
    We wish you a Happy New Year from the Geier household.
    Best wishes, good health, and happiness for 2018!

    • Margaret says:

      Happy New Year to you all, too, and warm wishes for a wonderful 2018! It was an eventful Christmas, but very special. It IS nice to be warm again, though. Looking forward to many new memories made together in the coming year.

  2. Nancy Jay says:

    Happy New Year to you Margaret and family.
    We know we missed out celebrating the holiday season by not spending time with everyone. The winter holidays brought on mixed feelings of joy and sorrow as well. Grieving the loss of loved ones always makes my heart and soul heavy. Food and family helps the process of moving on.
    I made the almond cookies and they were a HIT especially with our friends from Norway. This time I bought the ground almonds instead of grinding them myself (last year I tried to grind them even though Mom said never to grind them in your mixer and yup, I burned out the motor……disaster). Lesson learned: always listen to your Mother.
    Hope you are staying warm and watching the sun rise a little earlier today.
    Thanks for sharing your recipes and insight to life.
    Cheers.

    • Margaret says:

      All the best to you all, too, Nancy, and lots of love and good wishes for a great 2018 for you and yours.
      Hope you all had a very special Christmas, too, even though it was a tough one. Glad to hear you like the cookies, and also glad you didn’t burn out your motor again this year (yup, Mom knows best!).
      We are toasty and warm with our new furnace, counting our blessings, and looking forward to the new adventures in the New Year.
      Heartfelt thank-yous for your continuing support!

  3. Olivia says:

    I love all the photography in this post! It captures the Christmas perfectly! I will also say, many of those tuna boats may have been eaten by myself at home and they were delicious!

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks so much!! It WAS a lovely Christmas! So special with everyone home.
      (And as for the tuna boats – that explains it! I thought we might have had a hungry Christmas elf lingering around 😉 )

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