Friday, July 13, 2012

Linguine with raw tuna: Beautiful but blah

In today’s “Cooking Off the Cuff” at, I write about a really delicious tuna dish made in a kind of Sicilian style – including the doneness of the fish, which is cooked through but still nice and moist. Prepared this way, the fish stands up beautifully to the very flavorful garnish/sauce of tomatoes, garlic, olives and herbs.

A week or so later, I had what seemed like a brilliant idea for dinner using similar ingredients, this time in a pasta dish. But it turned out to be not so brilliant: I ignored my own advice about using cooked-through tuna with these strong flavors.

The idea was to make a pasta sauce very much like the garnish for the tuna dish I wrote about in The Post, then to add, at the table, diced raw tuna, which I figured would cook a bit in the heat of the linguine. It looked gorgeous, like little jewels (or maybe diced gummi bears). 

But the little points of blandness among all the higher flavors were almost disgusting. Dressing raw tuna with big flavors is one thing; putting it in a standalone environment of equally big flavors is quite another. An interesting lesson: Next time I’ll give the diced tuna a quick sauté, then add it to the sauce.

One successful thing about that dish (which was lovely apart from the tuna) was that I "filleted" the tomatoes beforehand and cooked the goo and seeds with herbs, garlic and lots of oil, then pressed this through a strainer and added it to the sauce when the time came. 

Delicious – I could have dressed pasta with this on its own or spooned it onto grilled bread. It reminded me of a lobster sauce base but without the lobster, if you see what I mean: viscous, concentrated, flavorsome.