It’s funny that I’ve come back to cooking something that this Croatian fisherman, chef and restaurateur makes at his pride and joy eating house, Konoba Batelina in Istria. Not only does this guy cook with some of the more unpopular varieties of seafood but he makes something delicious out of the simplest of ingredients. I made his chocolate chilli nibbles late last year and here I am recreating his delectable seared tuna. The fish he uses depends on what is caught that morning; being mullet, bonito, whatever’s going. With it he serves up a wild radicchio sauce with balsamic whereas I’ve gone for something slightly different.
What I’ve done is stick by that same formula using regular tuna from the seafood monger and a wild rocket pesto, of sorts, just runnier than normal using pumpkin seeds rather than pine nuts. I’ve also added nigella seeds for the extra nuttiness and smokiness they bring to a dish. The flavours are subtle and earthy and paired with the soft and silky textures of the tuna and nutty crunch from the seeds, it’s a really nice way to present and eat fresh fish.
serves 2-4 as an appetiser
In a food processor, combine the rocket, parmesan, pumpkin seeds, oil and salt. Process until smooth. Set aside.
Put the sesame and nigella seeds onto a small plate and mix roughly. Set aside.
Thinly slice the tuna into 4-5 cm strips. Alternatively, put the tuna into the freezer for 45 minutes and slice it while it’s semi-frozen. This makes slicing a little easier. Roll each slice into a spiral, secure with a toothpick, and dip one side of the spiral into the seed mix.
Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and quickly seal each spiral of tuna, seed-side down, until golden and the tuna has cooked about a third of the way up.
Remove toothpicks, arrange the tuna on serving plates, drop the rocket sauce around along with the salad leaves. Serve immediately.