Earls Tuna Tostadas

Tuna Tostadas 1

I have a soft spot for the Earls Tin Palace of my teenagehood, the hip new restaurant that opened up on 4th St just in time for the ’88 Winter Olympics, when I was 17 and just starting to go out with my friends for cheese sticks, potato skins and mocha Kahlúa pie. Where we’d go as a family when we ate out, and which was gutted by mud and rebuilt after the 2013 floods. Lately we’ve been going for happy hour – for $3 sleeves of draught, half price wine and $2 tuna tostadas. This week they launched a new series of cooking videos – with recipes – and asked me to check out the first (tuna tostadas!) and give it a go at home. It’s not the sort of thing I normally make, which is part of the reason I was happy to give them a try.

There are enough elements in this recipe to dissuade the average home cook, but each is a breeze to pull together – and a few of them have shortcuts you can take.


I do love cooking my own corn tortillas – it’s super satisfying to cut a stack of fresh ones into wedges and quickly fry them in half an inch of oil – all you need is a small skillet, not a deep fryer. As they turn golden, transfer them with tongs to a paper towel-lined plate and shower them with salt. Once you’ve done this, you’ll recognize the difference between warm, homemade tortillas and the packaged bagged kind, and will come up with excuses to make them all the time. (Try them doused in cinnamon sugar while they’re still warm, instead of salt! You can also cut them into strips to crisp up and scatter over soup or chili – and one package of tortillas goes a long way.)

charred peppers + tunaaioli

I almost skipped the charring of the peppers to make my own aioli and went with the jar of salsa verde on my shelf instead (not really the same thing, I know) – but jalapeños and poblanos are easy to find, and if you have a gas stove you can hold them with tongs over the open flame as they bubble and make campfire sounds until they’re nice and charred, then remove the innards and toss into a food processor with tons of cilantro, garlic and olive oil. I added the mayo straight to the mix as well, and a squeeze of lime. It’s amazing – perhaps my favourite part of this whole thing – and I can’t wait to taste it again tomorrow, when its had some time to hang out in the fridge and evolve a bit.

Tuna tostadas 5

And the tuna! So easy. The recipe calls for a tuna loin, but I picked up a couple ahi tuna steaks that did the job just fine. You blanch them in a small saucepan of simmering water for 10 seconds, pat them dry with paper towel, then douse in a simple spice blend (if you don’t have all the fancy chili powders, just use straight up chili powder, or chili powder and cumin, along with the coriander and salt. Or whatever spice blend (they suggest Cajun) you think would taste good) and cut into slices. So easy, and yet it looks like something you’d get in a restaurant.

Tuna tostadas 4

The jicama slaw is simple too – thinly julienne, then toss with a bit of fish sauce and sugar and lime – or again, whatever you think would taste good. Cabbage would probably work just as well, although I love the watery crunch of jicama. (If you’re in town, I found all the ingredients, from fresh ahi tuna to locally-made fresh corn tortillas to jicama – at Calgary Co-op.)

Tuna Tostadas 3

It should be noted that all of these elements can be done ahead and stashed away until you’re ready to assemble them. And it’s satisfying to lay out a row of crisp tortillas you made yourself, and top them with aioli (also homemade, natch), avocado, tuna, slaw, and a bit of radish and cilantro – I skipped the thin slices of pickled pepper.

Tuna Tostadas 2

If you want to see it all come together in a few minutes, Chef Ryan Stone shows us how it’s done in a truly great, well shot and edited video with added graphic tips that I love – there are more to come, but since mocha Kahlúa pie is long since off the menu, I’ll have to figure that one out for myself.

Earls Tuna Tostadas


February 1, 2016

Adapted slightly from a recipe by Chef Dawn Doucette, Earls Chef Collective.



1 jalapeño pepper

1 poblano pepper

3 garlic cloves

pinch salt

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 cup mayonnaise


1 Tbsp chile powder

1 Tbsp chipotle chile powder

1 Tbsp ancho chile powder

1 Tbsp ground coriander

1 Tbsp fine salt


5 oz (about 1/3 lb) albacore tuna loin

Jicama slaw:

1 piece jicama (Mexican turnip)

1 tsp fish sauce

1/4 tsp sugar

Juice of 1 lime


5-10 small (6") white corn tortillas

Salt, to taste

Putting it all together:

1 radish, thinly sliced

1 pickled Fresno chili, thinly sliced (optional)

1/4 avocado, sliced

Cilantro, for garnish

Lime, for garnish


1Roast the jalapeño and poblano peppers over high heat until the skin sides are fully charred. Using a sharp knife, cut them in half and remove the seeds and stems.

2Add the peppers, garlic, salt, olive oil and cilantro to the blender and puree until smooth. Add the puree to the mayonnaise and stir until evenly combined. (Shortcut: If fresh peppers aren’t available, use a green jalapeño sauce such as Tabasco, or even some salsa verde.)

3In a mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until thoroughly combined. (Shortcut: substitute the spice rub with a pre-made Cajun spice mix.)

4Cut the tuna loin in half lengthwise, then cut the halves into roughly 2-inch pieces.

5Blanch each piece of tuna in boiling water for about 10 seconds, until the outside turns white. Then immediately transfer it to an ice bath. After about a minute, dab the tuna with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then move it to the spice rub. Roll the tuna in the rub until thoroughly coated, then place it in the fridge.

6Whisk the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar together until all the sugar is dissolved. Use either a mandolin or a vegetable peeler to finely slice the jicama, then julienne it with a sharp knife. Add the jicama to the lime mixture and store in the refrigerator for later use.

7Cut the tortillas into quarters. Submerge the quarters in the deep fryer for 10-15 seconds before stirring with tongs. Cook until the pieces float and become crispy - approximately 2 minutes. Drain briefly, then toss in a bowl with seasoning. Shortcut: If you like, substitute store-bought tortilla chips for the fried tortillas.

8Top each tostada with a dollop of the aioli, a thin slice of avocado, a slice of the spice-rubbed tuna, and a pinch of the lime-marinated jicama slaw. Garnish with a slice of radish, a couple sprigs of cilantro, and a slice of Fresno chili. Serve with lime pieces on the side.


* Yes! Earls compensated me for writing this post – they asked me to give the recipe a try and let people know how it worked, and as always, all words and photos (and dinner) are my own.


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7 comments on “Earls Tuna Tostadas

  1. Erica B.
    February 1, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    These are going on the must-make list, though I might sub sour cream for mayo in the sauce 🙂

  2. Carol S-B
    February 2, 2016 at 11:12 am

    Thank you for giving these a go at home. Having seen your kitchen, I know you’re working with much the same equipment I am: if you can do it, I (probably) can, too.
    It will just take me longer.
    It’s awesome to know that (a) you got all the ingredients @ the Co-op, and (b) you can prep everything in advance. THAT makes it possible to do for company- fancy, without the stress.

    • Julie
      February 7, 2016 at 9:38 pm

      Yes! If I can do it, you can! 🙂

  3. Carol S-B
    February 2, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Oh, and that Mocha- Kahlua pie? Get on it, girl!

  4. lynn @ the actor's diet
    February 5, 2016 at 12:33 am

    Gorgeous fish! I love the alliteration too!

  5. loreto nardelli
    March 8, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Hi Julie
    I love this recipe and that you make your own tortillas, and the tuna Well done. Looks so fresh, healthy and tasty amongst a little picante and yes the memories of earls it was a great place to go to be with friends, eat good food and socialize. Very popular in my era. Great blog and also great writing.

  6. Mike hudson
    March 25, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Great post. I love this !!!
    I really like the way you covered all the details about earls tuna tostadas. I gonna try this at my home.

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