Why Olive Oil Poached Tuna?
Tuna cooked and preserved in oil, is a tradition perfected by the Italians. Today we enjoy this tradition without much thought - in the form of tinned tuna.
If you are a tinned tuna conspire like myself (it has often gotten me out of many meal dilemmas) you will know that the finest tinned tuna comes from Italy or Spain where they pride themselves in cooking the best cuts of tuna (especially the belly) in fruity olive oil and aromatics.
Slowly poaching tuna in olive oil is an easy way to re-create a far more luxurious version of this tinned fish. By cooking with this method (also known as confit), the tuna remains tender and moist, as the oil doesn’t allow any moisture to escape. The tuna also becomes subtly flavoured by the olive oil itself and other aromatics you add, my favourites being bay leaves and garlic.
What I love about poaching tuna in olive oil, is that while it is simple to do, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (covered in its cooking oil), it is also one method of cooking fish that will guarantee your house smelling fish free.
Enjoy this tuna with a light green salad, on its own with crusty bread or on an antipasto plate.
1x 300g piece of tuna (sashimi grade is possible)
2 cups olive, not a very expensive one
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
4 bay leaves
1 lemon, sliced
Season the tuna with salt, pepper and fennel seeds, wrap and marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of 3 hours or 12 hours for best results.
After 3-12 hours place the tuna with the salt, pepper and fennel seeds still coating in a medium sized pot. Cover with olive oil (add more if needed) and add 2 slices of lemon, the garlic and bay leaves.
Turn the heat on low, making sure to move the fish gently in the first 10 minutes to avoid it catching on the base of the saucepan.
Continue to cook the tuna on a very low heat (you want to see the oil ripple gently), adding 1 teaspoon of water every 30 minutes. The water helps maintain the low temperature of the oil by slowly evaporating.
Cook the fish for 2 hours, or until it flakes when pushed with a fork.
Allow to cool in the oil before serving.