My father-in-law turned down an invite to dinner on the evening I made this and when he sees this post.. I know that he will be filled with remorse.  This was the most phenomenal tuna dish that I have ever made.  The recipe is simple.  The cooking time is quick.  And if you hunt down the freshest cut of yellowfin tuna like I did – the taste is unbeatable.  And guess what future dinner guests?  I will be whipping this number up again and again so.. Clear. Your. Schedules!!

In all seriousness, Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi – the chefs behind the Ottolenghi phenomenon – are such remarkable recipe developers.  Almost every recipe that I have tried so far from their eponymous cookbook has been absolutely faultless.  This is one of those and I’m in love with it because of its simplicity.

Given the fact that it’s winter in Australia at the moment, I used frozen(!) mango – but, if it’s any consolation, the best quality frozen mango I knew of.  The mango was sweet & tender, and I honestly don’t think anyone would have been any wiser if we did have a dinner guest or two over that evening.  I made a full serving of papaya salsa and purchase 500 g of tuna loin, enough for 3 serves.  Something that’s great to know is that the serving size of the tuna (& salsa) is huge and although I have no doubt that everyone will finish their delegated portions, they will be deliriously content by the end of their meal.


You can prepare both the tuna and the salsa day in advance and keep them chilled.  The salsa will actually improve as its flavors intensify.  It will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.  Slice the tuna just before serving it.  It is extremely important that the fruits for the salsa are ripe and sweet.  To get more flavour out of the pistachios, you could toast them in the oven at 325ºF / 170ºC for about 8 minutes. 

If it is the visual effect that you’re after, leave them untoasted, as they lose some of their vibrant green colour when toasted.

Ingredients (Serves 6)
Papaya salsa
1 mini cucumber
1 large, ripe papaya, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/8-inch / 1-cm cubes
1 large, ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 3/8-inch / 1-cm cubes
2 red chiles, seeded and finely chopped
1/3 oz / 10 g fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 small red onion, finely chopped
grated zest and juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp superfine sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

scant 1 1/4 cups / 150 g shelled pistachio nuts
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 1/4 lb / 1 kg tuna loin
2 tbsp olive oil
5 tbsp Dijon mustard
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the salsa, peel the cucumber, halve it lengthwise, then scoop out and discard the seeds.  Cut it into 3/8-inch / 1-cm dice and put it in a bowl.  Add all the rest of the salsa ingredients, stir well, and season with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, then chill.  It is advisable to allow it to rest for at least an hour for all the flavors to combine.


Now for the tuna.  Preheat the oven to 500ºF / 250°C, or as high as it will go.  Chop the pistachios, preferably in a food processor, until you get fine crumbs.  Scatter them on a baking sheet and mix with the lemon zest, then set aside.


Take the tuna loin and use a sharp knife to divide it along its length into 2 or 3 cylindrical pieces.  They should be 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches / 6 to 7 cm thick and show the layers of the loin at their ends.  Brush the tuna with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place a ridged grill pan or heavy cast-iron pan over high heat and leave for a few minutes to heat up.  Place the tuna pieces in the pan and sear lightly for 3 to 4 minutes total, turning them around as you go.  Remove from the pan and leave to cool down a little.


Now brush the tuna generously with the mustard and then roll it in the chopped pistachio mixture, using your fingers to cover any bare patches.  Place the tuna on a baking sheet, transfer to the oven, and roast for 5 to 6 minutes.  Check carefully (stick a knife in; it should come out cold), as it might not take that long.  What you want is a slightly raw centre with a 3/8- to 3/4-inch / 1- to 2-cm ring of cooked meat around it.  Remove and allow to cool completely.


To serve, cut the tuna into slices 3/4 inch / 2 cm thick.  Serve with the salsa on the side or poured on top.

ottolenghi seared tuna with pistachio crust & papaya salsa 1280-14


I feel like I need to apologise for my poor plating skills.  It’s a work in progress so please bear with me on this…  Hopefully you will see a gradual improvement in the future as I learn, slowly but surely, from others as well as via my own mistakes!

ottolenghi seared tuna with pistachio crust & papaya salsa 1280-15

ottolenghi seared tuna with pistachio crust & papaya salsa 1280-16

ottolenghi seared tuna with pistachio crust & papaya salsa 1280-17

ottolenghi seared tuna with pistachio crust & papaya salsa 1280-18

So have I convinced you to make it?  Please tell me I have!

2 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Yes !! I will definitely make this for my in laws when they arrive in November – however I don’t think they will appreciate the ‘under cooked’ look !


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