Cooking Sicilian Tuna Steaks

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 19,514
    Chef Amy Riolo discusses cooking Sicilian Tuna Steaks.

    Amy Riolo: Hi, I am chef Amy Riolo and today we are making Sicilian Citrus Glazed Tuna Steaks with braised fennel in orange sauce. So let's get started by searing our tuna.

    The first thing that I am going to do is add 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into my pan. I have got this over medium heat. What we want to do here is just coat the bottom of the pan really nicely to prevent our tuna from sticking. A tuna is a very healthy fish because it's low in saturated fat but it has a lot of healthy Omega-3 nutrients, which are really wonderful for our health. These are our tuna steaks.

    Now what would I be looking for in our tuna when we go to purchase, is something that is nice and compact like this. Little fillets with the meat is nice and tight and together. We are also looking for even color, we don't want marbling in our tuna. We want something, this nice and even color and a fresh natural Coralish type of a color. You don't want anything that looks like it has been augmented or dyed bright red. I am going to add this to our pan and allow it to sear on either sides. This will make a little bit of noise as it sears. That is okay, this is what we want. We want to get it nice and crisp on either sides. I would say, for this recipe we will need about 2 minutes per side, just to kind of seep in the flavors. Now here in North America, we usually serve our tuna seared on the outside but a little bit raw in the middle. But in Sicily, they like to cook it all the way through. So that's what we are going to do for this application.

    So I am going to add a little bit of kosher salt, while this is cooking on one side. Kosher salt is great because it is lower in sodium than traditional table salt. It has these nice thick granules which actually melt down and cook up really well. Then I am going to add some freshly ground pepper. I am going to turn our tuna over. You want to stick your tongs under. If you get a lot of resistance when you go to turn, that means your tuna is not ready to turn. Juts let it cook a little bit longer, but if it turns easily, then you know it's ready. So it's very easy. You can see how we have this top layer which is cooked and then the middle layer which still has the redness in it. That one needs just a little bit longer. Now tuna, because it lives in the ocean for a longer time and it actually grows and gets to be quite large, it has a higher risk for mercury than some of the other fish that we have available to us in the market. So you don't have to only use tuna in this application. Chicken breasts would work very well, if you wanted to do chicken, but in the fish world you could also do many other things like mahi-mahi, sea bass, orange roughy. They all work very well in this recipe. It doesn't have to be tuna by itself.

    So do tuna every now and then, when you want to splurge, get familiar with it's recipes, get familiar with the techniques and ingredients. Then use the pink sauce in a lot of different varieties and you can make a lot of wonderful dishes with this very simple technique. So now this one is seared purposely well on both sides. We are going to take it over and transfer it on to our serving platter. What we are going to do is we are going to take advantage of the oil and a little bit of the juices that have dripped down from that tuna. Keeping our flame over medium heat, we are going to add our thinly sliced medium yellow onion. We will just stir with a wooden spoon. Already, you can really smell a beautiful aroma as these onions start to cook down. It's such a simple ingredient but by taking this extra step and by sauteing the onions, we get a lot of great flavor.

    Now we are going to add our capers. Capers are a very common Mediterranean ingredient which you can find in your supermarket. They add a grainy citrusy flavor, which really enhances the citrus taste of our orange juice. I am just working this around and I am getting rid of these little bits from the bottom of the pan. These are really good for adding extra flavor. We are going to work all of these in. Now to this, I am going to add about 8 anchovies. We have a little bit more than that here, so I am going to reserve some extra for presentation. Get yourself your anchovies and work them right into the onions. Whenever you are working with a fresh fish and you make a sauce, they has something like anchovies in it. You get a salty flavor that is low in sodium, a richer more complex flavor. It really complements the flavor of the fish well. So you will notice that throughout the Mediterranean.

    Now I am going to add our orange juice in and you will see that it really makes a lot of perfume and just degrays our pan. Now I will turn our heat down to low. You can see how our onions have gone softer and this has really come together as a nice little pan sauce. So now what I am going to do is take our tuna and add it right back into the pan. We are just going to let this simmer for about 5-10 minutes covered. That's going to cook our tuna all the way through.

    If you don't want to cook through, of course, you can cook it for less time than that, but it's traditional in Sicily to cook it all the way through. So that's what I am going to do for this recipe. If you want to just take some of the onions and scatter them on top, this will allow a little bit of that delicious onion flavor to seep down into the tuna as it cooks. So when we come back, we are going to braise our fennel and we will then plate our Sicilian Citrus Glazed Tuna Steak with our braised fennel in orange sauce.