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Catalan Tuna Daube



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Catalan Tuna Daube

Patricia Wells at
Home in Provence:
Recipes Inspired by
Her Farmhouse in France

by Patricia Wells, 1996, Scribner

“Tuna is often called the pot roast of the sea since it takes so well to long,
slow cooking, a method that beautifully tenderizes its meaty fish. This
version – a daube that simmers slowly in the oven – takes advantage of
many ingredients that combine to make a dish of very intense, complex
flavors. In this dish which I first sampled in Spain, black peppercorns
are crushed with garlic, then accented by hints of lemon, anchovy,
garlic and caper. I also enjoy the grassy flavors that green bell peppers
impart. Due to the popularity of red bell peppers, green peppers have
been mistakenly eclipsed in the modern kitchen. Lemon, tomatoes,
and wine all work their magic in tenderizing this meaty, flavorful
fish. The tuna is equally delicious the next day, served cold.”

Six to eight servings

4 flat anchovy fillets in olive oil
4 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon capers
1 medium onion, peeled
4 plump, fresh garlic cloves,
peeled and halved
20 whole black peppercorns
Fine sea salt to taste
3 green bell peppers
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pounds (1 kg) tuna steaks, cut about
2 inches (5 cm) thick
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Grated zest (yellow peel) of 1 lemon,
cut in wide strips
Bouquet garni:
several parsley stems, celery leaves,
and springs of thyme, wrapped
in the green part of a leek and
securely fastened
1 1/2 cups (37.5 cl) dry white wine,
such as a white Rhône, Riesling,
Aligoté , or Chenin Blanc
1 small can (14 1/2 ounces; 400 g) imported
whole plum tomatoes in juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper,
or to taste

1. Rinse the anchovies, discarding any visible bones. Pat them dry and
chop finely. Place in a small bowl with the milk and set aside for 15
minutes. Drain, discarding the milk, and set aside.
2. Drain the capers, rinse well, and soak in cold water for 10 minutes.
Drain and set aside.
3. Slice the onion in half lengthwise. Place each half, cut side down,
on a cutting board and cut crosswise into very thin slices.
4. In a mortar, crush the garlic, peppercorns, and 1/2 teaspoon of the
salt with a pestle to form a paste. Set aside.
5. Char the skin of the peppers over a gas flame or under the grill.
Peel, seed, and cut into strips, reserving as much juice as possible.
Set aside.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C; gas mark 4/5).
7. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over high heat. When
the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tuna, searing over high heat
for 2 minutes. Turn the tuna to sear the other side. Season this side
generously with salt and pepper. Transfer the tuna to a platter and
season the second side generously with salt and pepper.
8. In a large unheated ovenproof casserole, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil, the onion, crushed garlic and peppercorns,
lemon zest, and bouquet garni. Toss to coat evenly with oil.
Cook over moderate heat until the onions are soft and the mix-
ture is well blended, about 10 minutes. Add the wine, pouring it
all over the surface of the pan. Adjust the heat to bring the liquid
to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, until the alcohol has
cooked off, about 7 minutes from the time the liquid comes to a
simmer. Add the seared tuna slices. Add the tomatoes and their
juice, cayenne pepper, green peppers and their juice, anchovies
and capers.
9. Cover the casserole and place in the center of the oven. Cook until
the tuna is very tender, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven.
Remove and discard the bouquet garni. Remove the pieces of
tuna from the casserole and discard the skin of the tuna. Place
a portion of tuna on a warmed dinner plate and, with a slotted
spoon, spoon the solid ingredients over the tuna. Spoon a bit of
the sauce over and around the fish. Serve with steamed riceor
baked potatoes.

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