Refreshing Tuna Rillettes

A while ago I had a discussion with my boyfriend about his perceived superiority of Italian food versus most other cuisine. One of his arguments was that there was no truly French dish known throughout the world, at least not in the same way pizza, pesto and mozzarella was. It broke my – snobbish – French heart but I had to agree even if I could not believe it really was about quality. Thinking about it, I actually have a theory as to why traditional French food is not as well know as Italian or Chinese cuisines.

Unlike Italians or Chinese people, French historically did not migrate as much. There were no mass migration of French in other countries in Europe or in America. And when when French did expatriate it usually was because of a preexisting job. So unlike Italians and Chinese, French did not get as much chance to spread their gastronomic culture.

Following this discussion, I searched my mind for a French national specialty – excluding cheese. I found a few. One is rillette.

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Rillette is one of those dishes that are profoundly french. Originally made out of pork, rillette is a kind of spread much like pate, only smoother. Like most French specialties it has many regional variations. And one of the more modern and simplest ones is tuna rillette. Here I give you a little refreshing twist on it adding mint as an aromatic herb.

  • Servings: one 350mL mason jar
  • Difficulty: it's a breeze
  • Print


  • 2 cans of water based tuna – around 220g
  • 3 Tbs cream – I used soy cream
  • 1/3 lemon juice
  • 1 smallish spring onion finely chopped
  • 2-3 Tbs finely chiselled mint
  • salt
  • pepper

What should you do

  1. Drain the tuna very well and place in a bowl. With a fork break down the bigger pieces.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. Transfer the rillette in a mason jar and put in the fridge for 2 hours and up to overnight.
  4. Serve on fresh baguette bread or in a pita with lettuce, cucumber, carrots and radish. You could even put it inside spring roll wrapper as I did recently for lunch. Delicious !

Instead of mint you can play with different herbs to give a different vibe to this simple dish. Parsley, chives and cervil in equal proportions, thai basil or even some coriander.

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