Tuna with North African Spices and Roasted Pepper Salad

We eat a lot of tuna, mainly because we love it but also because it is a great source of protein, is filling and very affordable. The challenge for me therefore is to come up with a wide range of different ways to serve it, lest we get bored. Tuna is such a meaty fish that it copes well with deep flavours, and anything involving spice pairs very well with it.

The star of the show here (apart from the tuna) are the roasted peppers. They’re a bit of a faff, but only a bit. If you have never roasted peppers yourself before I will give you a quick tutorial below, and once you have tried them I am sure they will become a staple part of your repertoire.

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RECIPE – feeds 2 

2 yellowfin or other sustainable, line-caught tuna steaks

6 garlic cloves

1 small bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

1 small bunch of parsley, roughly chopped

1 small bunch of mint, leaves only,

150ml olive oil

3 tbsp ground cumin

2 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp paprika

a pinch of hot chilli powder

2 lemons, juice only

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

3 ripe tomatoes, skinned, de-seeded and cut into thin strips

a pinch of ground cumin


METHOD

First, place the peppers on your largest gas ring, turning regularly until they are completely blackened.

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If you don’t have a gas hob, put your grill on its highest setting and blacken them under it.

When they are completely blackened, place them in a sealable plastic bag and leave for ten minutes.

Put the garlic, coriander, parsley (reserving about a tablespoon), mint, 135 ml of olive oil, ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, hot chilli powder and most of the lemon juice into a food processor or blender and blitz until it is a paste. Tip onto a plate and place the tuna steaks on top. Using your fingers, completely coat the tuna with the paste. If you are making this for more than two people then this amount of paste will easily coat up to four steaks. Cover and chill for 15 minutes – don’t leave it any longer, the lemon juice will start to ‘cook’ the outside of the tuna.

By this point your roasted peppers are ready for some more work.

While they are still in the bag, rub the blackened skin off the peppers. Then take them out and wipe off the remaining blackened skin with some kitchen paper until they are clean.

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Now cut them in half and pour out the liquid that is inside them, remove the stalk, seeds and the internal membranes and slice thinly.

Now de-skin your tomatoes: boil a kettle, lightly score a cross in the base of the tomato and put it into a cup. Pour the just-boiled water over the tomato and leave for 15-20 seconds. Empty the hot water out and immediately refill it with cold water. Lift out the tomato, insert the point of a knife under the score and lift the skin away, you should find that the skin peels off easily. If you leave the tomato in the hot water for too long it will begin to cook, and the skin will not come so easily.

Cut the tomatoes into quarters and cut out the seeds, then slice into thin strips. Put the tomato strips into a salad bowl with the sliced peppers, stir through the pinch of cumin, the remaining lemon juice and parsley, 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside for later.

Heat a ridged griddle pan to a high heat, just short of smoking. Scrape the marinade off the tuna steaks and lay them in the pan. Cook for approximately 1 minute per centimetre thickness on one side, and half that on the other – to make that clear, a 2 cm thick tuna steak would be cooked for 2 minutes on one side, then flipped over and cooked for a further 1 minute. Do not move the tuna while it is cooking, it is likely to stick until it is properly cooked, and you want well-defined char lines where the ridges are. Cooking it this way should ensure the outside is well-sealed and the very middle is still quite rare, the tuna steak will cook on even when it is on your plate though.

Serve on warmed plates with the roasted pepper salad, a baked sweet potato is the perfect partner.

Keep your marinade! You can use it again and it will easily keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a week. Try it with salmon steaks for equally delicious results.

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