Healthy Tuna Salad from the Philippines

Water Spinach Tuna Salad served with gluten-free sourdough crackers

Kangkong- Water Spinach with Tuna Salad

This recipe is a really healthy lunch or even dinner. I love making it for lunch. It is really a type of Tuna Salad, Philippine style. I even like it cold for breakfast or a snack. It is simple, with few ingredients. If you have an Asian market near you, you should be able to source the ingredients. To make it an even quicker meal option, you can clean and chop the water spinach and freeze it (freeze the chopped stems and chopped leaves separately.). Simply defrost them and you are ready to go (you can even probably start cooking them from frozen state, although I haven’t tried it). This dish has become a staple in my house. Hot or cold, it is a wonderful meal.

My friend, Mylene, is from the Philippines. She loves to cook and so do I. She has been teaching me recipes from her country. This is a recipe her family makes. It is healthy and delicious. I love this with some homemade sourdough discard crackers. It would be delicious in a sandwich, over rice, or in a roll-up. Mylene told me there is no English translation of its name, Kangkong, so she calls it Water Spinach Salad.

Shopping at the Asian Market

A trip to the Asian markets is always fun, the closest one to me is about 40 minutes away. Therefore, it is a nice activity that we usually plan for on a Saturday. I get bags of the water spinach at the Asian market. There is a Thai water spinach that has narrower leaves and the Philippine water spinach that has somewhat broader leaves. I have used both varieties, depending on what was available at the market, they taste the same.

Calamansi is a type of fruit, a cross between a kumquat and other citrus, grown predominantly in the Philippines. I find the frozen packages of 100% Calamansi juice at the Asian market. Calamansi is a tart citrusy juice. I find it to have a sort of tangerine undertone to it. Calamansi juice has a very refreshing taste. If you don’t have, or can’t find, Calamansi juice, lime juice is a workable substitute.

Bag of Thai Water Spinach for the tuna salad
Bag of Thai water spinach from Asian market used for our tuna salad
Bag of frozen Calamansi juice
Bag of frozen Calamansi juice. I used one of the packets inside the bag for the tuna salad
washed water spinach (approximately 1/3 of the bag) for our tuna salad
Washed water spinach (approx 1/3 of the bag) which is how much I used for the recipe. Will pick out any bruised or bad leaves and use the remainder.
Final amount of chopped stems from the 1/3 of the bunch that will be used for the tuna salad.  Trimmed the ends and most of the side shoots.
Final amount of chopped stems from the 1/3 bunch (trimmed ends and side most of side shoots before chopping).
Chopped leaves of 1/3 the bunch of water spinach.  Was about 6 cups of chopped leaves.
Chopped leaves of 1/3 bunch of water spinach for the tuna salad. Was about 6 cups worth of chopped leaves.
Cooked water spinach tuna salad served with gluten-free sourdough crackers
Cooked water spinach tuna salad served with gluten-free sourdough crackers.

Water Spinach Salad or Kangkong

Recipe by Lisa Imerman/Mylene SnyderCourse: Main, fish and seafoodCuisine: PhilippinesDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



A delicious and healthy water spinach tuna salad, Philippine style.


  • 1/3 of a large bunch of water spinach

  • olive oil

  • 1 can of tuna fish packed in water (I used chunk light)

  • salt to taste

  • Calamansi juice, to taste (can substitute lime juice)

  • finely diced onion (optional)


  • Wash water spinach. Remove leaves from stems and keep both separate
  • Chop stems into small slices and set aside
  • Chop leaves and set aside (separately from stems)
  • Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil to hot pan. When oil is hot add water spinach stems.
  • Sauté water spinach stems till tender, add some of the water from the can of tuna to help them steam after you sauté for a few minutes. Cook for about 5 minutes total.
  • Once the stems are tender add the leaves and sauté till wilted, 3-4 minutes.
  • Add tuna to water spinach in pan and stir to break up and heat through.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Remove from heat and add Calamansi or Lime juice to taste. You can also add the finely diced onion if you decide to include it.
  • Serve hot or cold. Wonderful with crackers or rice.

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