Last week, word spread quickly around town that a few tuna had escaped a farm in the middle of the Golfo di Castellamare. One of the locals, a man I would refer to as "Grizz", spent three nights on the beach stalking the tuna. He eventually speared (yes, speared) three and brought them to the fishmarket. This was big news - tuna don't usually appear at the markets until the summer. Gioacchino and I went to see Toto, the owner of the pescheria. Sure enough, hanging in front of his shop was a beautiful tuna. Next to the fish was a wooden table, where Toto sliced tuna steaks to order, under the watchful eye of his appreciative customers.
Gioacchino and I got to talking about how he would prepare his tuna. "Tartare, baby." (Gio likes to add "baby" to anything that gets him really excited. When the exchange rate goes down: "1.26, baby." When you ask him what he would like to drink: "Negroni, baby.") His technique is simple - marinate the tuna in olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and chives, all of which he grows on his property. Add a little salt and pepper and your done. He goes off on a tangent about how good fresh tuna is with just a little soy sauce and suddenly the crowd turns on him. The little that I understand goes something like this: "In Sicily we eat like Sicilians. Screw your soy sauce!" I think I heard a "minchia" in there for good measure. Gioacchino corrected himself and offered to bring over some lemons and chives for our marinade. This is our sack of goodies on the right. Ang diced up the tuna and started on the marinade. In addition to the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, chives and parsley, she added minced garlic (what can I say, the girl loves garlic!).
I haven't eaten a lot of tuna tartare in my life, but I think I can say that it will be tough to beat what we had last week. The tuna was incredibly delicate. When Ang took the bowl out of the fridge, she took the plastic wrap off and immediately grabbed my arm. "You have to smell this!" The lemon, tuna, chives, garlic and oil together was so remarkable - it instantly got stored in the memory banks, along with the smell of freshly pressed olive oil and walking by a merchant selling Sicilian oranges.
Anyway, here are a few more images from the meal. Ang toasted up some croutons which added a nice contrasting crunch to the silky tuna. Throw in some hard boiled eggs and a dressed salad and this dinner left us pretty excited for the start of the summer and tuna season!
I (Scott) am a former specialty food buyer and semi-professional eater and Angela is a chef/baker/fudge-maker/world-adventurer. We love wine. We love cheese. Meat? Check. Fish. Yes, please. Fresh produce from the ample fields surrounding our tiny little beach village? Hell yeah!
We invite you to follow our adventures as we become a little more Sicilian everyday...
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