Recipe: Tuna Siciliana
On a trip to Palermo, Sicily, I tasted a lot of fish dishes flavored with some of the traditional flavors of the island: fennel, orange, chiles, basil, and sea salt. When you make this dish, buy high-quality tuna, which can be bluefin, yellowfin, or bigeye tuna as long as it’s as fresh as can be. Cook it only long enough so that the center is still red or cooked to medium rare. Believe me, this won't taste nearly as good if you cook the tuna any further!
- 2 fennel bulbs
- 2 oranges, preferably organic
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1¾ pounds tuna steak, cut into 4 even pieces
- 1 tablespoon ground fennel seeds
- 2 tablespoons Clarified Butter or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- 4 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 4 teaspoons Basil Oil
1 Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2 Trim the fronds from the fennel bulbs and then cut the bulbs into 8 equal segments. Cut each orange (unpeeled) into 8 sections.
3 In a mixing bowl, toss the fennel and orange with the olive oil and red pepper and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4 Spread the fennel in a shallow baking pan and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and add the orange. Roast for about 5 minutes longer. Test the fennel for doneness by poking it with a small, sharp knife. When the fennel is done, the knife will meet with no resistance. Set aside the fennel and orange.
5 Season the tuna with fennel seeds, salt, and pepper.
6 Heat a sautee pan over high heat. When the pan is hot, put the clarified butter or oil in the pan. When the butter foams or the oil is smoking hot, sear the tuna on all sides or until rare. This should take 30 seconds on each side for perfectly rare tuna. Remove the tuna from the pan and slice each piece into quarters.
7 Put 4 pieces of roasted fennel and 4 pieces of roasted orange on each of 4 serving plates. Put 4 tuna slices in the center of each plate and season with sea salt. Drizzle the vinegar around the edge of each plate, followed by the Basil Oil.
Excerpted from Osteria by Rick Tramonto and Mary Goodbody.Copyright 2008 by Rick Tramonto. Excerpted by permission of Random House of Canada Limited. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.