Sometimes, finding fish in the Pacific Northwest is surprisingly (and frustratingly) difficult. Undoubtedly our oceans and rivers are well stocked with some of the world’s best (and most sustainably harvested) wild salmon, crabs, steelhead trout, and rockfish. But try going to most grocery stores. You will be confronted by the same farmed salmon, shrimp, and an old-looking piece of cod. I was recently surprised when I stopped into my local store and found a pack of flash-frozen ahi tuna steaks. I wanted something different and remembered a Provencal preparation called ‘Thon a ‘l’Oseille’, or tuna with sorrel.
Most people equate Provencal dishes with its more Italian feeling ingredients like tomatoes and basil. True Provencal cuisine is simple, born in the countryside, and not fancy restaurants. It is a poor cuisine framed by the frugality of poverty. Nothing goes to waste. It’s rustic and makes thrifty use of ingredients from both the Mediterranean and small family-run farms. Wild ingredients like game birds, wild mushrooms, and fragrant herbs are foraged in the surrounding hillsides and forests. It is highly aromatic, scented with wild herbs and just enough garlic but never too much to be overpowering. Provencal food is simple.
My Tuna Recipe
My seared tuna steak exemplifies the perfect marriage of the ocean and the land. I have adapted the original concept of the dish with what was growing in my garden and I suggest you do the same. If you do not have a garden p[lanted then see what local farmers have to offer. The original recipe calls for fennel seeds which I substituted for baby fennel that I needed to thin. Both my wife and I remarked how flavorful and delicious this dish is. Since we cannot travel this year we might as well bring the flavors of vacation to our tables.
Seared Tuna with Sorrel and Fennel
a simple, flavorful tuna preparation made with the bounties of both the sea and small farms
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 4 slender carrots peeled and sliced
- 1/2 sweet onion sliced
- 2 small fennel bulbs, or 1 large bulb sliced
- 2 sprigs thyme or summer savory
- 1 clove garlic peeled and sliced
- 3 ounces sorrel or baby spinach or Swiss chard chopped
- 1 cup chicken stock, water, white wine, or even rose wine
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 pound tuna cut into 4
Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the carrots, onion, fennel, thyme, and garlic over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
Add the sorrel to the skillet. Deglaze with chicken stock. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 to 15 minutes. The vegetables should be softer and tender and most of the liquid evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Season tuna with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil over. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Cook the tuna quickly, about 3 minutes per side, until nicely browned on the top and bottom, but still cold and red in the center.
For more French recipes please buy my cookbook ‘French Cooking for Beginners’ available at all the finest online bookstores.