RECIPE | Celebrate Norfolk Festevents’ 46th annual Harborfest with our Tuna Salad with Refrigerator Bread + Butter Pickles!

America’s largest, longest-running, free maritime festival, the iconic Norfolk Harborfest® enters its 46th year in 2022, presented by Norfolk Festevents.

Celebrate this sea-centric fete with our TUNA SALAD WITH REFRIGERATOR BREAD + BUTTER PICKLES, a delish dish to enjoy served on open-faced on toasted baguette (like shown above, with arugula and hard-boiled egg) or spread on tortillas for a wrap, or enjoy as a spread on sandwiches, plus more! Enjoy this at home, or place in a cooler and take with you to the festival!


With Refrigerator Bread & Butter Pickles


2 pounds Kirby or other pickling cucumbers, sliced 1/8 inch thick

1 large sweet onion, such as Vidalia, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons kosher salt

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1-1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon celery seeds

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric


1 (12-ounce) tuna steak, about 1 inch thick 

2 teaspoons salt 

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1 tablespoon butter 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 


3-5 finely chopped homemade bread-and-butter pickles (store bought is fine)
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped; leaves optional

1-1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion




Make the pickles. Toss the cucumber, onion, and salt together in a large bowl. Transfer the cucumbers and onions to a large colander set over a bowl or in the sink and allow to drain for 1 hour, then rinse. 

Combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds, and turmeric in a large saucepan and bring to a rapid boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cucumbers and onions. Cover the saucepan and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. 

Remove the saucepan from the heat and transfer the pickles, onions, and liquid to a gallon-size glass jar. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate at least 1 day before using. Stored in the refrigerated, the pickles will keep for several months. 

Make the tuna. Season both sides of the tuna with the salt and pepper. Warm the butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts. Place the tuna in the skillet and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side for rare and about 3-4 minutes per side for a medium temperature. The tuna should be cooked just through.

Transfer the tuna to a cutting board, allow to rest for 3-4 minutes, then flake into small pieces. Place in medium-sized bowl.

Make the tuna salad. To the bowl with tuna, add chopped pickles,  eggs, chopped celery, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and chopped onion, stirring to completely blend. Season with salt and pepper and stir again to blend. Refrigerate, covered, for 1 hour or until ready to use. 

Yield: 4 servings 


Patrick Evans-Hylton is Norfolk Festevents’ culinary advisor, a Johnson & Wales-trained chef and an award-winning food journalist covering tasty trends since 1995 in print, broadcast and electronic media. He is publisher of Join the Virginia Eats + Drinks Facebook group at

photo: Shutterstock

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