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Seared, Spiced Tuna in Olive Oil

Called Iskabeg, tuna prepared thus ripens in the oil over the course of days, becoming mellow and complex—almost a confit. Serve with crusty bread or boiled potatoes to mop up the sauce.
By / Photography By Michael Hart | May 06, 2014

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons black peppercorns, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 12-16 ounces super-fresh tuna steaks
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 2/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and torn in half
  • 1 small, hot dry red chile
  • 1 bay leaf

Instructions

With a mortar and pestle, crush to smithereens the coriander seed, cumin seed, and red pepper flakes, along with 1 teaspoon  each of peppercorns and salt. Pat the tuna dry all over and then rub in the spice mix on all sides. Set aside on standby while you tackle the next step.

In a wide heavy frying pan, heat the oil and vinegar slowly over a  low flame. Add the garlic, olives, the whole chile, the bay leaf, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of peppercorns and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. As soon as the mixture comes to a simmer, pour it carefully into a wide flat-bottomed non-reactive heatproof container like a  casserole or big soufflé dish. Set aside to cool a bit.

Your frying pan will still be oily, so just set it back on the burner and crank it to high. Turn on your exhaust fan. Before a smoke  cloud starts up, but just, carefully place the tuna in the pan. Sear  for 30 seconds per side for the rarest result, 45 seconds for a little  more done, turning carefully with a very thin spatula in between.  Turn off the heat, and gingerly transfer the tuna to the crock of marinade, pushing those pesky olives aside so that the fish is  completely submerged. The fish and the oil-bath will cool down together. Let stand a few hours, then serve or refrigerate in airtight containers for up to five days. Best at room temperature. 

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Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons black peppercorns, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 12-16 ounces super-fresh tuna steaks
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar, or white wine vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
  • 2/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and torn in half
  • 1 small, hot dry red chile
  • 1 bay leaf
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