Spain has many dishes with humble origins. This one got its start on a fishing boat. It features the beautiful bonito tuna caught in the north of Spain and simple ingredients that could survive on a long voyage.
Those pressed for time could use strained, crushed tomatoes and jarred, roasted red peppers.
Servings: 4 - 6
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless yellowfin tuna fillets (at least 1 inch thick)
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, boiled and peeled
- 2 medium green bell peppers, roasted (see NOTE)
- 1 1/4 cups Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 2 slices day-old bread, preferably country-style
- 1 pound plum tomatoes (5 to 6)
- 3 cups thinly sliced onion (about 2 large onions)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup cognac
- 1 small guindilla chili pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped (may substitute your favorite small hot chili pepper)
- 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
- 2 to 3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 4 cups water
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
Cut the tuna into 1-inch cubes; place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Use your hands to break the boiled, peeled potatoes into large chunks and place in a large bowl. Cut the roasted and skinned bell peppers into thin strips and place them on top of the potatoes in the bowl.
Line a plate with paper towels.
Heat 1 cup of the olive oil in a medium saucepan until it registers 300 degrees on a candy thermometer. Add the bread and fry for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until golden. Use tongs to transfer the bread to the prepared plate to drain.
Slice the tomatoes in half lengthwise; discard the seeds. Place a large-holed grater over a large mixing bowl. Rub the cut sides of the tomatoes over the grater until all of the flesh has been grated into pulp. Discard the skins.
Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onions, roasted bell pepper strips and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, until the onions are golden brown. Add the wine and cognac; cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the alcohol evaporates. Then add the tomato pulp, guindilla pepper and smoked paprika, stirring to combine. Cook for 10 minutes, then season with 1 to 2 teaspoons of the salt. Add the potato chunks and fried bread, folding them into the mixture; the bread will break up eventually. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the water; cover and cook for 15 minutes, gently shaking the pot occasionally to prevent the potatoes from sticking.
Meanwhile, season the chilled tuna cubes with 1 teaspoon of salt, then add the tuna to the pot, stirring to combine. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. The tuna should be juicy inside and barely cooked through. Remove the pot from the heat and adjust seasoning as necessary. Garnish servings with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve hot.
Adapted from "Jose Made in Spain," by chef Jose Andres, due out in fall 2008 (Clarkson Potter).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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