History of Tuna Salad in Costa Rica

Costa Rican tuna fish salad, otherwise known as atun con sodas is one of the most popular foods among Costa Ricans. And I can tell you from lots of experience that Costa Rican canned tuna is some of the best in the world.

There are several reasons for this. The first is that canned tuna lasts practically forever in any type of climate, making it an easy food to have on hand.

The second reason is that it’s easy to travel with tuna and crackers, making a quick snack or meal on the go.

The third reason is that it’s relatively cheap to buy and it’s sold everywhere. If you find yourself hungry and in need of a high-protein snack, it’s almost guaranteed the closest grocery store or pulperia has tuna on hand.

Tuna fish has been around as canned food, and because the tuna is freshly caught on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, it’s canned almost immediately.

There is canned tuna in oil, in water, with mixed vegetables, and even with jalapeno.

For the longest time, Costa Ricans would have to use a knife to open the can because can openers were not readily available. they would stick a large knife into the metal top or bottom, and then pry as much of the top off as necessary to get the tuna out.

Today, the easy-open cans make opening and enjoying tuna much more practical. Tuna salad is now a popular food for at the beach, a quick dinner, or even a snack on the road.

The tuna salad is served with the widely popular brand of saltine crackers, called galletas soda, made by the national brand Pozuelo.


A Tropical Twist to My Mother’s Easy Tuna Salad Recipe

My mother made a tuna fish salad that I always loved. In her recipe, she used eggs, mayonnaise, sweet gherkin pickles, and the juice from these pickles. Sometimes she would cut up some sweet Red Delicious apples in place of the gherkin pickles. These ingredients and the way she made it have served as general guidelines for my making of tuna fish salad, as I have adapted to the available ingredients in Costa Rica.

Below, I give easy instructions on how to make this quick meal, including the nutritional value, serving suggestions with photos, and some variations that I sometimes enjoy. Please note that this recipe uses canned tuna in water, but you can choose canned tuna in light oil if you wish. Even better would be to have cooked fresh tuna if it is available!

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min

Ready in: 15 min

Yields: 5 servings (five sandwiches)

Ingredients for Easy Tuna Salad

* 2 cans tuna fish chunks, 6-ounce cans, drained

* 4 eggs, medium, hard-boiled

* 3/4 cup mango, ripe, chopped fine

* 2 tablespoons onion, white or yellow, chopped fine

* 2 tablespoons Salsa Lizano, (or Salsa Inglesa)

* 1 tablespoon Tapa de Dulce (cane syrup), (or you can substitute honey)

* 1/2 cup Sandwich spread, (Hellman’s or equivalent)

* 2 tablespoons Cilantro leaves, chopped fine


1. Boil the 4 eggs for five minutes so they are hard-boiled. Then take them out and place them in a pot of cool water.

2. While the eggs are cooling, cut up the mango and the onion.

3. Remove the shells from the hard-boiled eggs and chop them up into fine pieces in a bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients and mix.

4. Place the tuna salad in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or so before serving to let the flavors mingle.


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