Monday, February 12, 2007

'Fish' and 'Chips' 1 - Tuna

Most Fridays the focus is on the potatoes, the ‘chips’ part of the meal, the fish an accompaniment to the gloriously cooked spuds. I love potatoes. As a child I always wanted what we referred to as ‘cheesy potatoes’, a Gratin Dauphinoise though we didn't know that was it's name then... I would wolf down what was on my plate and try to secretly take seconds before anyone else noticed I was gone from the table. Fat chance! Somehow, there just never seemed to be enough!

So nutritionists and carbohydrate-police be damned; potatoes are virtuous, sustaining and unmatchable. Just ask any Irishman. Nothing else comes close. But occasionally it’s the fish that takes centre stage. Like tonight.

The potatoes – pebbly Jersey Royals from the self-proclaimed ‘Potato Man’(he must be an interesting super-hero, don’t you think?) at the market – are scrubbed, then steamed whole over a pan of simmering water. When tender at knife-point, they are removed to a bowl and gently broken up with a fork, crushed ever-so-slightly to reveal their steaming insides. While still hot they are bathed in lemon-infused olive oil, tossed and seasoned. Simple, but only worth doing if your potatoes are perfect and new, your olive oil magnificent.

The fish - I always feel vaguely guilty about eating tuna. It’s like the beef of the sea with its huge, dense, fillets. And I know that it is not native to our waters in Australia, being reared in the dreaded fish farms off the South Australian coast. For us though, it is a once a year treat. The recipe is nicked, rather shamelessly I might add, from Jamie Oliver. Doubled, this would easily feed 4 or be enough to make a second meal the following night, tossed through pasta.

Tonno di nonna fangitta – for 2

500g of ripe tomatoes, a mixture of yellow and red if possible (ours came from the garden and were so gorgeous I had to put in a photo)

200-250g of super fresh tuna, about the size of 1 fillet

2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced

1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked

1 small fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced

Olive oil

2 tablespoons of capers, rinsed

3 anchovy fillets

1 teaspoon of fresh oregano leaves

½ cinnamon stick

½ tin of tomatoes (about 200g)

Sea salt and pepper

A handful of parsley to serve – Jamie says it’s optional, but it aint

Use a small pot that will fit the tuna snugly – too big and the tuna won’t poach properly.

First, peel your tomatoes. Prick each one with the tip of a knife to pierce the skins, and place them in a heat-proof bowl. Pour a kettle of freshly boiled water over the tomatoes, wait for 40-60 seconds depending on their size, drain and pop into a bowl of cold water. When cool enough to handle, slip of their skins then carefully squeeze out their seeds.

Make about 5 deep incisions in the tuna flesh on one side with a sharp knife point. Place a few leaves of rosemary, a sliver of garlic and a sliver of chilli in these incisions. The remainder will be used, so don’t be concerned about wastage.

Put your well chosen pot on the heat and add a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add the remaining garlic, rosemary and chilli along with the capers, anchovies, oregano and cinnamon stick and cook on a gentle heat until the garlic softens. Add the peeled tomatoes, tinned ones and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, breaking the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. Season with salt and pepper then add your tuna, ensuring it is totally submerged. Pop the lid on partially and cook for 20-25 minutes. It will ‘flake’ easily when ready to eat.

Remove the pot from the flame and allow to cool, lid on, to room temperature. Serve with the warm potatoes that you can cook and prepare during this cooling period. Sprinkle with parsley, chopped as roughly or finely as you like before serving. Oh-my-god-good.


Susan said...

Lucy, this is an elegant recipe. And I really like the colors in your photos.

And I too just love potatoes!

Lucy said...

Thanks Susan - it was elegant, and I must say that the potatoes were still my favourite part!

I'm lucky that the sun comes in through the kitchen window in the late afternoon/evening so the colours in the photos are lit naturally. Thanks!