Tuna with aubergine hummus – Seared, spice dusted tuna, with a creamy chickpea and aubergine hummus.
I’ve got a bit of a love / hate relationship with tuna. I love cooking it and I love eating it even more. But I don’t like putting it on the menu any where I work.
I’ve a couple of reasons. First off tuna has got to be cooked rare…or not at all if you like sushi. For some reason because it slightly resembles a fillet of beef and can be cooked rare customers seem to think it can’t be cooked medium, pink and every other cuisson you can apply to meat.
This just isn’t the case. It can’t be cooked medium or pink. It’s not beef there’s no blood and it will never take on that beautiful pink hue you get at the center of a perfectly cooked steak.
The best any chef can do is kind of half cook it for you, which is a difficult thing to do and get spot on. Do the chef a favour and eat rare. You’ll love the crusty caramelized exterior and the soft, moist red center and if you want it well done I’ll open a tin of John West’s finest for you.
Another reason why I rarely eat tuna anymore is because most of the fresh stuff we get here in Ireland comes from the gulf of Oman. A small body of water in a troubled part of the world that connects the strait of Hormuz with the Arabian sea in the Persian gulf.
Tuna is not a species caught in these parts and the yellowfin tuna caught in the gulf is the closest to us as the crow flies. So it’s the quickest and most economical to get to market here. It’s still got to be air freighted though which means it won’t do much for your carbon footprint. it’s also quite expensive, its price creeping up massively in the last couple of years so it’s a fish I tend to cook only occasionally or for a special occasion.
There are of course plenty of japanese recipes for tuna where they devour it in massive quantities but considering where our tuna comes from I wanted to add a little middle eastern flavour to mine.
And what better way to do that then with hummus. The one dish from the middle east that everybody is familiar with. Lately I’ve been coming across some great recipes for hummus made with vegetable purees. You could use carrots, cauliflower, or beetroot to add a different colour, texture or flavour to your hummus.
For mine I used Aubergine or eggplant to my American friends. I love how roasting its soft interior bring out a sweet nutty flavour. To the caramelized eggplant I added all the classic hummus ingredients. Citrusy lemon, garlic and a good slug of olive oil all go in along with the chickpeas before its whizzed up into a smooth. velvety puree. Ideal for dipping in the rare cooked strips of tuna.
Tuna is also a fish that can take a little spice and I used mainly cumin. I’m a big fan of its unusual flavour where you get a hint of curry without any of the heat. For that I used a little dried chilli along with a some floral coriander and fennel seeds.
There’s no need to toast these spices before you use them to coat the tuna. The searing heat when you fry the tuna steaks releases all their spicy goodness and turns them to a beautiful crust as the fish cooks.
To bring the whole dish together I whipped up a simple salsa with some salty green olives. Then just added roughly chopped mint and coriander for a fresh kick along with some red wine vinegar. The salsa is than barely moistened with a trickle of olive oil.
2 medium sized aubergines – peeled and cut into a small dice
5 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
3 banana shallots – finely diced
juice of 1 lemon
60ml / quarter cup of pomace olive oil
225g / 8oz cooked chickpeas
for the spice mix
5 teaspoons of cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1.5 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon of maldon sea salt flakes
for the salsa
75g / 30z green olives – cut into quarters
60ml / quarter cup olive oil
25g / 1oz shredded mint leaves
10g / half oz roughly chopped coriander
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
First make the aubergine hummus. In a large pan heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add in the diced aubergine.
Cook for about 3 minutes tossing occasionally allowing your aubergine to turn a beautiful golden brown colour. This is important if you want your hummus to have a sweet almost nutty flavour.
Next add in the chopped shallots and garlic before turning the heat down and allowing everything to cook for a further 5 minutes till the shallots and garlic have softened.
Next add the cooked chickpeas (I used a tin of chickpeas, drained and well washed) lemon juice, and olive oil. Bring the pan up to the boil and season with some salt and a little black pepper.
Transfer everything to your food processor and whizz up the hummus till is smooth and creamy. Scrape the hummus from the processor and set aside. It Can be served warm or at room temperature
For the spice mixture simply crush up the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds together with a mortar and pestle then add the dried chilli flake and salt. Don’t grind the spices up too finely, keep them quiet rustic so they add a crusty finish to the tune when it’s cooked.
Coat the tuna generously with the spice mixture then heat some oil in a large non stick pan. The pan has got to be large enough to comfortably hold the 4 tuna steaks. Gently add your tuna to the pan and cook it on the highest heat for 2 minutes on each side till caramelized and golden.
Once cooked remove your tuna from the heat and drain it well on some kitchen paper.
While the tuna is resting you can make your salsa. Simply mix together the green olives, herbs, olive oil and red wine vinegar and give everything a good stir.
To serve divide the hummus between four plates. Carve the tuna steaks into thin strips and place it on top, then spoon a generous amount of your salsa over the top