A plate of Korean hot tuna aside toasty bread.

One evening last fall, Ben and I had dinner at Momofuku Ssäm Bar. Having read so much about the restaurant over the years, I had a few must-order dishes in mind, namely the fried Brussels sprouts and pork buns.

Blinded, perhaps, by my anticipation of these renowned dishes, I glazed straight over an appetizer called “Double Hot Tuna Can.” When our server arrived, my husband, a tuna lover, inquired, and shortly thereafter it, too, became a must order.

As someone who has never really loved tuna, I had zero expectations, but it ended up being one of my favorite dishes of the evening. The canned tuna, a slightly spicy Korean brand, gets “zhuzhed up” with Kewpie mayonnaise and sliced chilies. The mixture is then returned to its can and served with thin, toasty baguette slices.

It’s a very simple dish, but very flavorful, thanks to the tuna itself, which is canned in a tomato-based hot pepper sauce. Flecked with bits of potato and onion, the sauce has nice texture and flavor: not too spicy with a subtle sweetness. The tuna itself is less dry than most I’ve tasted, perhaps a result of marinating in the sauce.

When I returned home, I had to track down both the tuna and Kewpie mayonnaise. Kewpie, if you are unfamiliar, is a popular Japanese brand of mayonnaise. Its deliciousness can be attributed to a number of factors from the ingredients — prized Japanese egg yolks, rice vinegar as opposed to distilled vinegar, MSG — to the emulsification process itself. If you are curious, you can read more about it in this Thrillist article.

Kewpie mayonnaise is not hard to find. Here’s one source.

Double hot tuna, on the other hand, requires a little more effort, especially if you hate paying for shipping. I’ve ordered it from here: H&Y Market. And I can find it locally at Sunhee’s in Troy. Some Asian markets carry it, but not all.

Dongwon, the brand, also sells a “hot pepper tuna” as opposed to the “double hot pepper tuna,” which is a little easier to find, and I suspect just as tasty. I just ordered some. Will report back.

Friends, I wish this tuna were easier to find, because a.) It’s especially nice to have on hand right now, and b.) It’s really yummy. If you like tuna and you like heat, you’ll love this. If I track down a better online source, I’ll be sure to be in touch.

PS: Avocado and Smoked Trout Salad (A favorite!)

Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients: a tin or two of Korean double hot tuna and mayonnaise, Kewpie if you feel like tracking it down.

Kewpie mayonnaise and two tins of Korean double hot tuna.
An open tin of Korean double hot tuna.

Open the tin and mix it in a bowl with a squirt or two of mayonnaise. I haven’t been adding the sliced chilies, as they do at Momofuku, but feel free to do so if you like a little more heat — the tuna itself is not overwhelmingly spicy.

A bowl of Korean double hot tuna mixed with Kewpie mayonnaise.

Return the mixture to its can (…if you feel like serving it Momofuku style).

A tin of Korean double hot tuna mixed with Kewpie mayonnaise.

Meanwhile, find some stale bread, and …

A loaf of stale focaccia on a board with a knife.

slice it thinly. This is several days-old sourdough focaccia, but this overnight, refrigerator focaccia makes equally delicious crostini.

Sliced stale focaccia on a board.

Transfer to a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt. Toast at 450ºF for 7-10 minutes.

crostini just baked on a sheet pan

Serve your tuna with crostini on the side.

Korean double hot tuna, plated, with crostini.
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Korean double hot tuna in a can mixed with kewpie mayo.

Korean Double Hot Tuna


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 7 minutes
  • Total Time: 12 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2 as an appetizer

Description

Inspired by an appetizer served at Momofuku Ssäm Bar in NYC.

Notes:

If you want to make this as they do at Momofuku, you’ll need:

  • Kewpie Mayonnaise: here’s one source. The mayo you have on hand works just as well, too.
  • Korean Double Hot Tuna: I’ve ordered it from here: H&Y Market. And I can find it locally at Sunhee’s in Troy. Some Asian markets carry it, but not all.
  • If you hate paying for shipping, Dongwon, the brand, also sells a “hot pepper tuna” as opposed to the “double hot pepper tuna.” I just ordered some. Will report back regarding flavor. 
  • Sliced hot chilies: At Momofuku, they slice up hot chilies and mix them into the tuna and mayo. I have yet to do this at home, because I find the tuna mixture tasty enough with mayo alone, but feel free to add some if you like a little more heat.
  • Crostini: I think focaccia makes the best crostini. Here are two easy recipes: Overnight Refrigerator Focaccia and Simple Sourdough Focaccia 

Ingredients

For the tuna:

  • 1 5.3-oz can Korean double hot tuna
  • mayonnaise, see notes above
  • lemon or lime, optional

for the crostini:

  • day- or days-old bread, sliced thinly, see notes above
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Instructions

  1. To make the tuna: Open up the can and empty into a bowl. Squirt in a teaspoon of mayonnaise. Use a fork or spoon to incorporate. Taste. Adjust with more mayonnaise to taste. If you feel like serving it Momofuku style, return the mixture to the can. Serve with lemon or lime on the side, if you wish, and crostini:
  2. To make the crostini: Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place the thinly sliced bread on a sheet pan. Drizzle lightly all over with olive oil. Season lightly with sea salt. Transfer pan to the oven and toast for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden.

  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stir, Broil
  • Cuisine: Korean

Keywords: Korean, double, hot, tuna, canned, kewpie, mayonnaise