This recipe is from an early favorite cookbook among the many Mediterranean titles I've been perusing this fall: "Seafood Alla Siciliana." Greek, Italian, French and Spanish influences are brought together in modern ways with intriguing names, such as Pistachio-Crusted Swordfish Rolls With Escarole Filling. Although that may sound involved, it's a recipe that takes an hour at the most and contains nine ingredients.
The entree is a variation on the agrodolce theme, based loosely on a recipe from Vicolo Stretto restaurant in Taormina, Sicily. It's nice to buy 1 large piece of tuna that you can cut into portions as you see fit. The red onion takes on a lovely color and is done in about 15 minutes, and it's amazing how a little mint helps complete the dish.
Serve with wild rice.
Wine columnist Dave McIntyre recommends serving this with a California pinot noir such as the Alma Rosa "La Encantada Vineyard" 2007.
Servings: 3 - 4
- 1 large red onion
- 1 1 1/4-pound piece tuna
- Sea or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste
- 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 to 10 mint leaves, for garnish
Trim the ends of the onion, peel, then cut the onion into very thin slices.
Cut the tuna into 3 or 4 equal portions, at least 1 inch thick. Season each piece on both sides with salt and the pepper, if using.
Combine the vinegar, sugar to taste, a pinch of salt and the water in a liquid measuring cup; stir to dissolve the sugar.
Combine a little of the oil and all the sliced onion in a large skillet; heat over medium heat, stirring to coat the onion evenly. Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring as needed, until the onion is soft. Add the vinegar mixture; cook uncovered for 5 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated and the onion begins to caramelize. Transfer to a bowl and cover loosely to keep warm.
Use paper towel to wipe out the skillet. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and swirl to coat the bottom, then add the tuna and sear for 1 to 2 minutes. The tuna should remain reddish-pink in the center. Turn the pieces, then pile equal amounts of the sweet-sour onion on top of each piece of tuna. As soon as the second side of the tuna has been seared (about 2 minutes), add just enough water to cover the bottom of the skillet. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes (for medium-rare) or a little longer as desired.
Transfer the portions of tuna with onion to individual plates. Increase the heat to medium-high; deglaze the skillet by adding water and stirring with a wooden spoon to loosen any bits and help create a sauce. Spoon over each portion.
While the sauce is cooking, roll the mint leaves and cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade). Sprinkle some on each portion; serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from Lydecker's "Seafood Alla Siciliana" (Lake Isle Press, 2009).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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