Almond crusted tuna frequently pops up my idea periscope when my mind wanders. I first had it in Sicily a few years ago in San Vito Lo Capo, when I was a judge for the International Cous Cous Festival (yes, I really was, and it was bonkers, and a lot of delicious fun). There are many almonds in Sicily, pistachios too, and they appear a lot in the cuisine. Almond crusted tuna was one of my favourite dishes that I tried, a fabulous alternative to breaded fish, the tuna remains crisp and is – obviously – nutty.
I make it quite a bit at home, and in different ways. This time, I had it for lunch with some chilli roasted kabocha squash (a deep orange rich squash / pumpkin), some wilted lettuce for texture and lightness, tomato to brighten it a bit (and we love those lycopenes), a simple sauce made of coconut milk, curry powder and a squeeze of lemon, finished with some crisped curry leaves. There is a little bit of work involved, but not much, and you can prep much of it in advance if you want to.
Recipe: Almond Crusted Tuna with Chilli Roast Pumpkin, Wilted Lettuce, Tomato & Curry Leaves
Almond crusted tuna:
1 tuna steak – approx 250g (but you know, as big or as small as you like)
75g ground almonds (I like to do mine fresh but this isn’t essential)
1 beaten egg
50g plain flour
1 small pumpkin, deseeded and cut into wedges (you won’t use all, but the leftovers are great for other things)
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 gem or small cos lettuce
6 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp good curry powder
200ml coconut milk
a squeeze of fresh lemon
chopped fresh chilli – as much as you desire (I use a medium heat one, chopped fine)
8 fresh curry leaves or some fresh coriander if you can’t get any
oil of your choice (I quite like coconut oil for this dish, if you have it)
First roast your pumpkin at 180 deg C for about half an hour until tender. Drizzle ina little oil and sprinkle with the chilli flakes and sea salt before putting it in.
Prep your curry sauce. Fry the chilli in a teaspoon of oil for a minute or so, add the curry powder for a further minute and the coconut milk. Leave to cook for a few minutes while you prep your tuna. Finish with a little lemon juice to lift it, to your taste.
Season the tuna with a little sea salt. Prepare three plates, one with the flour, one with the beaten egg and one with the almonds. Coat the tuna first in the flour, then with the egg, and finally with the almonds (press in if they are not sticking, but they should).
Heat a little oil over a medium to high heat then fry the tuna on each side until it is almost at your level of done-ness. I like mine rare. When it is almost ready, add the curry leaves and crisp them slightly. Remove, then add the lettuce leaves and wilt.
Serve the tuna on top of a bed of wilted lettuce leaves, roast pumpkin, sprinkle with the curry leaves or fresh coriander and some halved tomatoes, then finish with a drizzle of the curry sauce.