Apr 21, 2008

Cooking tuna wrapped in vineleaves

Canned tuna is a funny thing. Until one point in my life, I thought tuna only existed in cans. That of course runs back to when I was a kid who was stubborn when it came to eating fish. It was either fish nuggets or canned tuna, but keep the seabass and salmon away from me! Very very fortunately, all of that has changed now as I adore fish, maybe even a bit more then beef, chicken, lamb and porc. And I will always remember the first time I ate “real” tuna- one that did not come out of a can. The first thought that hit my mind was “OMG what have I been eating all these years?” Tuna not out of a can tasted so different, it tasted like heaven and it definitely made me put a big fat red X on canned tuna…for life!

So the other day I decided to cook some tuna, but instead of just pan-searing as I normally do, I decided to wrap them in vineleaves before they touch the bottom of the pan. Vineleaves are a popular ingredient in Middle Eastern, Turkish and also Greek cuisine as we use them to make dolmas (if you are not familiar with dolmas, please check out a great post on Café Fernando which also features the infamous dolma rolling machine!)

Above: vineleaves, ready for use

In my opinion, and following what my tastebuds say, vineleaves tend to have a bit of an amertume lemony taste, so they go perfectly well with fishes. If you’re curious and interested in doing the same, scroll down for the recipe!

Tuna wrapped in vineleaves, couscous with grilled sesame & mini ratatouille.

  • Fresh tuna steaks
  • Vineleaves (count 3-4 leaves per tuna steak)
  • Couscous
  • Grilled sesame seeds
  • Zucchini
  • Eggplants
  • Cherry tomatoes (or just regular tomatoes, but preferably smaller ones in size)
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil, lemon, salt & pepper to season

How to make it:

Prepare your mise-en-place: dice the zucchini & eggplants. The smaller the better if you want to obtain a "mini ratatouille" effect. Crush some garlic cloves, keep aside. Flatten the vineleaves, set aside. Grill the grilled sesame seeds in the oven until they become a slightly darker golden colour (I grill grilled sesame seeds, even if they are already grilled, but it enhances the flavour even more and makes a perfect combination with the couscous). While you're grilling the sesame seeds, do the tomatoes at the same time. I placed a grilled tomato on top of the ratatouille (instead of mixing it in with the zucchini & eggplant). Prepare the ratatouiile: heat some olive oil in a pan, then add the zucchini, eggplants, garlic, salt & pepper. Cook for a few minutes until ready. Cook first on high heat, then reduce heat and cover the pan. Cook for less time then you usually would, as the ratatouille will be kept on a very low heat (to stay warm) until the couscous & tuna are prepared. For the tuna: season each tuna steak with salt & pepper, rub with lemon, and cook in a heated pan with olive oil for a few minutes. At the same time, prepare the couscous (follow package instructions). When couscous has absorbed all the water, throw in the sesame seeds, a small dash of olive oil, add some salt and mix well. Enjoy the tuna, couscous & grilled sesame and the mini ratatouille at the right serving temperature!


Lore said...

This looks darn good! We use to make a ground meat-rice combo wrapped in vine leaves around here. I've never tried it with fish though. The pictures are GORGEOUS and I'm not talking about this post only.

Peter G said...

Wonderful tuna steaks Marianna. I love the mini ratatouille as well. Beautiful!

diva said...

WOW. i love vine leaves and tuna steaks. now that you've put them together,it's a dream come true. thanks for sharing!x

Vicki said...

What a gorgeous dish! I'd love to re-do my house in those colors.

Kate / Kajal said...

what a wonderful way to use wine leaves. i've honestly just had them stuffed with rice n mince the greek n lebanese style. I've seen jars of these leaves in lebanese supermarkets and sometimes even over the pickles counter. next time i'll surely buy some n try this out.