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Tuna Nicoise

By Jen G on 21st Jul, 2014

Tuna Nicoise

Method

  1. First of all pop the potatoes and sprigs of mint in a pan, cover with cold water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Simmer til the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife. I love the flavour the mint infuses into the potatoes.
  2. Meanwhile bring another pan of cold, salted water to the boil. Once there, soft boil your eggs for 5 minutes - no longer! You want that oozy orange yolk later, it's the best bit. Remember, don't keep your eggs in the fridge. They're not there when you buy them are they? Simply unnecessary and they take longer to cook.
  3. I fish my eggs out of that pan with a slotted spoon and immediately run them under cold water to refresh them and arrest the cooking process. I then use the same boiling water for my fine beans; saves energy and time. Just top the beans by pulling off the stalky bit and blanch them in the boiling water for no more than two minutes. Then drain and refresh those in cold water too so they are still green and crunchy.
  4. Wash your salad leaves and spin them dry. This is important, as if you add a dressing to a wet salad leaf it just won't stick. If you don't have a salad spinner, use a clean tea towel. Put the leaves in the middle, make a bundle then go outside and whizz it round your head like a lasso. Preferably whooping as you do so. I think it helps.
  5. Now cut your tomatoes into nice, big irregular chunks; there is something lovely about them being all different and imprecise. Add those to the torn up salad leaves. Next, finely slice the shallot or the spring onions and toss those in, ditto the quartered potatoes which I allow to cool at room temp after draining. A super cold potato is a sad affair.
  6. Next pit the olives by pressing down on each one with the back of your knife or the bottom of a mug or a glass. This will squash them and the pits will fall out. Don't chop those, just scatter them in. Add in the drained green beans and peel the eggs.
  7. In a separate bowl whisk together the dressing ingredients, taste and season.
  8. Leave to one side while you cook the tuna.
  9. Drizzle a little oil over the tuna steaks, season well with salt and pepper and give them a massage. Oiling the fish and not the pan means you will use less oil and not smoke out your kitchen.
  10. Heat your pan to very hot, imagine you were cooking a steak. If you have one of those fancy ridges griddle pans go for it.
  11. Place the tuna in the sizzling pan, do not move it. Wait. Patience is a virtue. If you move it around you won't get a nice brown crust; it will reduce the heat in the pan and make it stick. Once it's cooked about a third of the way up, (you can see the heat travelling up the sides) flip it over and cook it the same on the other side. Pop the steaks onto a clean plate to have a little rest whilst you assemble the salad.
  12. Drizzle the dressing over the leaves and all in the bowl, using light fairy fingers and nice clean hands lift and drop the salad together, mixing gently. Place piles of the salad strategically for height on nice big plates or in deep shallow bowls. Think lettuce Jenga. Build it up buttercup. Now drape a few fillets of the anchovies atop each salad. Putting them in before means they often come out smushed and ugly, or you add too many and overwhelm everything with a fishy, salty kick.
  13. Top each one with a piece of the tuna. If it is a starter I carve mine first into thick slices. Main course I leave it whole. Halve the eggs and place an oozing half atop each tuna steak. Grind over a touch of fresh black pepper and sea salt and serve. Mouthwateringly good, very attractive and as accomplished as any you could buy in your nearest over priced bistro.
  14. A new standard in your culinary canon.

Recipe Notes

  • Try pairing this dish with a Provence Rose.
  • Serve this for 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter.
tuna  / fresh herbs  / french  / fish  / egg
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