Grilled Encrusted Tuna Steak with Sautéed Spinach and Samphire

This coriander and basil encrusted tuna steak is based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver’s 2002 cookbook “The Naked Chef” 

It really is my go-to preparation of tuna steaks since… er… 2002. It’s fresh, tangy and packs a little heat whilst not overpowering the tuna. Over time I have only slightly amended Jamie’s original recipe. I substituted the dried chili flakes for fresh chili as it’s easier to adjust the amount of heat to the level you prefer. I also added some olive oil to the herb mixture to make marinating the tuna steaks easier.

The recipe itself:

  • ½ small red chili, deseeded
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 good handful of fresh basil
  • 1 good handful of fresh coriander
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tuna steaks (about 200g/8oz each, about 2cm/¾ inch thick)
  1. Add the chili, ground coriander seeds, garlic, basil, coriander and lemon juice (to taste) to bowl of a food processor and blitz until combined
  2. Add the olive oil, season and blitz again until you have a pesto type of consistency and reserve a couple of tablespoons of the herb mixture
  3. Lay out your tuna steaks on a tray and rub the remaining herb mixture on to each side
  4. Cover and let the tuna steaks marinate for about 15 minutes
  5. Heat your griddle pan or frying pan until very, very hot and then put in the tuna (no need to rub the pan with a little bit of oil as there already is sufficient in the marinade)
  6. Sear the tuna about 60 to 90 seconds on each side
  7. Serve the tuna steaks together with a tablespoon of the reserved herb marinade

Today, I combined my albacore tuna steaks with sautéed wild spinach and “zeekraal”. I had to turn to internet as there apparently are many names for (as well as many, many variations of) this edible plant that grows in coastal areas of (among others) the Netherlands. It did where I grew up and sometimes we harvested it by hand on ebb tide. Samphire seems to be the most common name, but it is also called sea asparagus, sea pickle or glasswort.

Samphire is often used as a maritime accompaniment to fish or seafood. The most commonly available is marsh samphire and it has vibrant green stalks, similar to baby asparagus, with a distinctively crisp and salty taste. It should be eaten as fresh as possible as it doesn’t keep well. It is often boiled or steamed and then coated in butter or olive oil. I stir-fried it in some olive oil with half a clove of grated garlic only for 2 minutes or so to preserve its crunchy texture. Again, samphire is quite salty on its own, so please take that into consideration when seasoning other food you want to serve it with.

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