I usually lean toward an Asian flavor profile when I make tuna steaks. But, I just wasn’t feeling that today. After our time in Portugal, I decided to wander in that direction. More of a meander, really. The main thing to remember with tuna, is to not over-cook it. You want it crisp on the outside and very pink on the inside…and very delicious. This recipe could absolutely be made with any fish and I think I may even try it with chicken. It could also be quite delicious with poached eggs. I happen to like eggs and lentils…I’m odd that way! This is going to be on our company menu this weekend. But, it’s quick and easy enough for a mid-week meal, too. I absolutely love that sort of flexibility. Now, to the recipe! The tuna steaks should be marinated at least 3 or 4 hours ahead of time. You can partially sauté the onion mixture a couple of hours ahead, or even the day before and reheat them, though I think they’re best made no more than 2 hours ahead. The tuna only takes about 5-6 minutes to pan-fry, and DO NOT over-cook the tuna! Did you get that? We want it nice and pink in the center. To marinate the tuna, mix together the lemon juice, about half the grated garlic, salt and pepper, olive oil and sweet paprika. I put all this in a Zip-Loc bag, shake it up, then drop the tuna steak in. Seal the bag well, shake it around to coat the steaks with the marinade, then remove as much air as possible, seal and refrigerate until you’re ready to prepare. I’ve not marinated overnight, and I’d be a bit concerned that the lemon juice would “cook” the tuna and it might get mushy. Mushy is not good. While the tuna marinates, I prepare the onions. I just simply sauté the onions, with the remaining garlic and a bay leaf in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. You want the onions to begin to soften, then pour in the wine. Continue to sauté until about half the wine is evaporated. At this point, I pulled the pan off the burner and let it stand. When I’m ready to pan-fry the tuna, I pull the tuna out of the marinade, scrape off as much of the marinade as I can, but don’t pitch it out; reserve it. Coat both flat-sides of each steak with rice flour; like the top steak. (Turn the burner on under the onions and stir in the reserved marinade.) I add about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to another skillet, place it over medium-high heat and when hot, carefully lay the tuna steaks in the skillet. Don’t move them around. Just leave them alone, for about 3 minutes. I use a tongs to turn the steaks over, adding more vegetable oil, if you need to. Let the tuna fry for 2-3 minutes on the second side, until browned and crisp, depending on the thickness of the tuna. Remove the tuna to a plate; set aside. Back to the onions—The liquid should be almost completely evaporated; stir in the capers and olives. Remove from the pan from the heat. I sliced one of the steaks, as they were too large for us, so I have one leftover for another creation! I placed several slices of tuna on a bed of seasoned lentils, and served a large spoonful of the onion mixture on the side, with a sprinkle of cilantro. When I was ready to make dinner, it took me about 10 minutes to get it on the table! I kid you not. It took me longer to write this description, than it did to make dinner. Seriously.
Portuguese-Style Tuna Steaks with Onions
- 2 fresh tuna steaks, at least 1-inch thick
- 3 garlic gloves, grated and divided in half
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons good-flavored olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Rice flour or cornstarch, for dusting the tuna
- 3 medium onions, sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 cup dry white wine, more if needed
- 1-2 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained (I use the larger amount)
- 8-10 large green pimento-stuffed olives, sliced
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- 1-2 tablespoons minced fresh coriander or parsley
- Seasoned green lentils or rice, for service
Combine the grated garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Pour into a food storage bag that will hold the tuna. Add the tuna steaks, seal and tip to coat until the steaks are completely coated. Open and push out as much air as possible, then seal tightly. Let to marinate for three-four hours in the fridge.
About 10 minutes before you’re planning to fry the tuna, prepare the onions. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a sauté pan, over medium heat, and when hot, add the onions and bay leaf. Sauté for about 5 minutes, then pour the wine into the pan. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Stir into the capers and continue to cook until the onions are tender, but still have a bit of bit. Set aside while you prepare the tuna.
When you’re ready to cook the tuna steaks, remove from the marinate, let most of the marinade drip back into the bag. Coat lightly with cornstarch. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet, over medium-high heat. Fry for 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet; place atop rice. Spoon some of the onion mixture over the top; sprinkle with minced cilantro and serve immediately.
Portuguese-Style Tuna Steaks with Onions Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018