Seared Tuna with Chili-Spiked Black & Green Olive Salsa

Printemps 2018
food and drink

BY: Signe Langford

The meaty clean flavour of fresh tuna is a perfect foil for the rich umami saltiness of this mixed olive salsa, though any meaty or white fish such as pickerel, char or swordfish will work well. We’ve used a blend of readily available olives: Kalamata, niçoise, large and small, stuffed and plain, but any combination will work as long as you include some black and some green. Don’t use canned or brined olives from a jar; look for olives packed dry or in olive oil. A simple, buttered grain or starch—rice or quinoa—is a lovely accompaniment that softens the sharper flavours.

2 to 4 pieces (½ lb/250 g each) tuna loin, albacore or other sustainable, line-caught fish
2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil for oiling the tuna, plus 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil
Fresh black pepper to taste
⅓ cup (80 mL) Kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
⅓ cup (80 mL) niçoise olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
⅓ cup (80 mL) plain or chili-marinated green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
⅓ cup (80 mL) sun-dried tomato-stuffed colossal green olives, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño or other favourite chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped, about ¼ cup (60 mL)
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup (60 mL) coarsely chopped Italian or flat-leaf parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp (30 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 Rub the tuna steaks with about 2 tsp (10 mL) olive oil on both sides; season both sides with pepper to taste. Set aside at room temperature while preparing the salsa.

2 Into a non-reactive bowl (glass or china), add the 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil, chopped olives, chili pepper, shallots, garlic, parsley, lemon zest and juice and stir to combine well. Set aside at room temperature while cooking the tuna.

3 Place a large, heavy-bottom grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat—cast iron works well. Tuna also works nicely on a barbecue grill set on high. Once the skillet is smoking hot—a drop of water should dance and hiss on the pan’s surface—add the tuna. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the first side; flip, then cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden on both sides. It will be slightly pink in the very centre. If very rare tuna is preferred, cook only for 2 minutes on each side.

4 Serve immediately with a generous portion of the salsa.

Serves 2 to 4; makes 2 cups (500 mL) salsa