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Judy Rogers' preserved tuna changed my life

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Judy Rogers' preserved tuna changed my life

foodfirst | Nov 5, 2003 09:12 PM

Well, not exactly (although I *am* eating more tuna these days --- it's one of the "good" fishes, right?). But I think tuna lovers will love this recipe so much I wanted to put it out there. I'm a lover of Ortiz and other high-end canned tunas, but this recipe produces a tuna that's even better. Caveat is, of course, that you have to buy fresh tuna which can be expensive ... but dollar for dollar about the same as the good canned stuff. And it's a great way to make use of a large amount of tuna that's on special (recipe doubles well). So, the recipe, kind of:

abt a pound of fresh tuna, cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch chunks
kosher salt
good olive oil
fennel seeds, crushed red pepper, a couple lemons, bay leaves, ground black pepper, couple cloves of garlic

Salt the tuna all over, little less than a Tbsp of salt for a pound, and put it back in the fridge for a few hours. (you can skip this step but it really does make a difference in the taste).

Dry the tuna pieces thoroughly with a towel.

Cram the pieces together in an appropriately-sized saucepan. They should fit very tightly in just one layer.
Slice garlic very thinly and zest the lemons.
Now wedge between the tuna pieces crumbled bay leaves (2 or more depending on how fragrant your bay is), lemon zest, garlic slivers, fennel, crushed red pepper, black pepper.
Pour olive oil to just cover the tuna and place it on a burner over the very lowest possible heat. Once the oil starts bubbling oh-so-lazily, allow it to continue to do so for 1/2 hour. Nudge the tuna and spices around a bit once in a while. Don't let it boil!

Remove from heat, allow it all to cool together, and refrigerate it or use it that day (no need to refrigerate).

The Zuni Cafe cookbook uses this in a yummy pasta with pine nuts and capers ... I also like it with pasta and oven-roasted tomatoes, black olives, caper berries, and dried oregano. It makes a great nicoise salad --- and what a tuna sandwich! I've stored it in the fridge up to two weeks, with no problem. The oil is almost as tasty as the tuna itself.

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