Seared Ahi Tuna with Peperonata
At its price, ahi tuna is a special-occasion food in my house. I like to serve it with something so tasty that people still feel satisfied with just a 4-oz [115-g] portion. The peperonata is substantive and tasty. Together, the pairing offers an abundance of healthful Mediterranean flavors. My family has taken to eating this peperonata with a spoon while it’s still in the pan. I’ve started doubling the recipe to be safe. It elevates any fish and is delicious with roasted chicken, too. If you’re sensitive to nightshades, turn to caramelized onions instead.
- One 1-lb ahi tuna fillet, about 1 in (2.5 cm) thick
- Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup Pepernota (below)
- 3 red bell peppers
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing (optional)
- Kosher salt
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, core and stems removed, thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
- Brush the tuna fillet with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sear the tuna for 1 to 2 minutes per side for rare, or longer to reach the desired doneness. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 2 minutes.
- Slice the tuna against the grain and divide among four plates. Spoon one-fourth of the peperonata over each piece of fish and serve.
For the Peperonata
- Place a rack in the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F [200°C]. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place all the bell peppers in a medium bowl. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil, sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt, and toss until the peppers are well coated. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, turn the peppers, and continue roasting until the peppers are charred and soft, with their skins beginning to peel away, an additional 20 minutes.
- Return the peppers to a medium bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let sit for 10 minutes. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, remove the stems, skin, and seeds. Cut the flesh into rough strips and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the remaining 4 Tbsp [60 g] olive oil. Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, crushed red pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the capers and vinegar and allow the vinegar to reduce for 1 minute. Remove from the heat. Stir in the roasted peppers.
- Transfer to an airtight container. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper as desired. If using, finish with a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
How to buy tuna: My trick to buying good tuna? I always ask the fishmonger to pull a piece from the back for me, not from the display case even if the tuna is right in front of me. The fishmonger should be able to tell you when it came in and should also be happy to cut off a piece from a large, fresh fish. Reprinted from The Anti-Inflammation Cookbook by Amanda Haas with permission by Chronicle Books, 2015
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