Thursday, January 29, 2015
Chuck Charlie: A Life-Changing Tuna Recipe
Sorry to re-use a headline—c'mon, it was from 2009—but in this case it applies in spades. This recipe for tuna, Oregon albacore, actually, is so good you may never buy the canned stuff again. And I hate to say it, but even the locally processed, line and pole-caught stuff in jars can't hold a candle to its silky moistness.
The next part was critical, though…you want to heat the oil sloooooooooowly. Apparently if the oil is heated too quickly, the surface of the fish seizes and the flesh turns out dry and hard like you often find in canned tuna. But cooked properly, it's terrific on its own as a tapas-style appetizer, or it can be mixed with pasta and grains for a stunning main dish. You could also make it into what will be the most amazing tuna sandwich you've ever had. Use your imagination!
Albacore Tuna Confit
1 tuna loin, trimmed of blood line and skin
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tsp. dried thyme
4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed in a garlic press
Zest of 1/2 lemon
3-4 c. decent quality olive oil
Cut trimmed loin in four pieces. In a shallow pan, mix salt, chili flakes, thyme, garlic and lemon zest. Roll tuna pieces in the spice mixture, making sure to cover all surfaces (this doesn't have to be thick, it's just a rub). Place in dish on counter for at least a couple of hours or covered in the fridge if you're marinating it longer.
Place fish pieces in a saucepan and cover with oil. Put over very low heat and, using an instant-read thermometer, slowly raise the temperature to between 140-150°. Maintain temperature for three to ten minutes, or until the center of the thickest piece is almost cooked through. (You can use a fork or knife for this purpose.) Turn off heat and allow the oil to cool. Remove fish from oil. Strain remaining oil through a fine mesh sieve.
If you're not using all the fish right away, place it in a container that has a tight-fitting lid. Cover the fish with the strained oil and seal. It will keep in the fridge in its oil for a couple of weeks. Any remaining oil can be used for dressings or other purposes—it has a fantastic flavor!
For more information on Oregon albacore, read "Oregon Albacore A to Z."