Monday, 20 September 2010

Pistachio-crusted tuna with papaya salsa

You know that old rule about things never being there when you want them, and then suddenly three come along at once? I've heard it applied to both buses and men, and think I have found another application: food bargains. Following closely in the wake of the scallops, I discovered some half-price tuna steaks in M&S the other day. 

Normally I cook tuna with a mango and avocado salsa, but I recalled seeing a recipe for tuna steaks in the Ottolenghi cookbook that looked quite nice. On further inspection it appeared even nicer: tuna with a pistachio crust, served with a papaya salsa. As I have a weakness for anything that involves pairing fruit with savoury items, no more deliberation was needed. Thank goodness for Tesco and their ripe papayas, because the ones in Asda were rock hard and would have been horrible. Finding a ripe mango was more of a challenge, but the one I ended up using was passable. The salsa is made from diced papaya, mango and cucumber mixed with grated ginger, spring onion, chopped red chilli, lime zest and juice, olive oil, Thai fish sauce and caster sugar. It is delicious - I left it for a few hours for the flavours to mix together and the end result is so much more than a sum of its parts. It's soft and sweet from the papaya but then crunchy from the cucumber, and just hot enough to make your mouth tingle, but not unpleasantly so.

The crust on the tuna is just pistachio nuts, ground to powder in a blender and mixed with lemon zest. I seared the tuna in a pan, rubbed it with Dijon mustard to make the crust stick, then rolled it in the nut and lemon mixture, and then it went in the oven for a couple of minutes. It was still raw in the middle, just as I think it should be. I steamed some green beans to go with it. 

The whole combination is delicious - you could get away with doing either the crust or the salsa, because they both work individually. I reckon the pistachio and lemon mixture would be a good coating for chicken or pork fillet, too. 

For a starter, another recipe from the same cookbook: aubergines with saffron yoghurt. It takes about five minutes of actual kitchen time: slice aubergines, roast in the oven until soft, mix some saffron-infused hot water with yoghurt, garlic oil and lemon juice, pour over the aubergines, and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, and basil leaves. The lovely garlicky sauce is offset by the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds, and the whole thing is very good. It would make a nice main course with some flatbread and maybe couscous.

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1 comment:

  1. Pleeeease can I have the recipe for the tuna.....I've just ordered the book but would love the recipe so I can cook it for friends tomorrow evening?


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