There was some outstanding tuna at the market this week so I decided to make Tuna alla Ghiotta. Making this dish brought back memories of living in Sicily. I remember the local fishmonger would have a huge fresh-caught swordfish or tuna sitting on a butcher block from which he would hack off a piece of the fish for you. And I do mean huge – those suckers were anywhere from 18 to 24-inches in diameter and 3 to 4 feet in length. I had never seen anything like it before. This recipe is one of the traditional ways that Sicilians and Calabrese cook tuna or swordfish.
The tuna (or swordfish) is lightly seared and then simmered in tomatoes, onions, garlic, olives, capers, and herbs. It’s an easy dish that cooks in 25 minutes, providing you have all the ingredients ready.
TUNA ALLA GHIOTTA (TONNO ALLA GHIOTTA)
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 4 servings
4 tuna or swordfish steaks (about 6 ounces each, and approximately ¾-inch thick), skin removed
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sliced shallots or onions (or a combination of both)
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped ripe plum tomatoes (about 4-5) or 2 cups whole peeled canned tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup pitted green olives, sliced or roughly chopped
3 tablespoons large capers
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar
Sea salt and pepper
1. PAN SEAR TUNA: Pat the tuna dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large 12-inch skillet over high heat.
Working in batches, cook tuna for 2 minutes on both sides, until lightly browned. It’s best to use a splatter screen to control oil splatters. Transfer tuna onto a large plate.
2. MAKE THE SAUCE: Leaving the oil in the skillet, add the shallots, celery, and garlic, and cook for 4 minutes until vegetables are soft.
Stir in tomatoes, olives, capers, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes (is using), and 1/3 cup water. Cover with a lid and cook on low heat for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, lightly mashing the tomatoes. Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
3. COOK TUNA IN SAUCE: Add the tuna back into the skillet, nestling the pieces in the sauce and spooning some on top. Cook for 5 minutes longer. Place the tuna on individual serving plates with the sauce spooned on top.