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Fresh Tuna with Black Olives

Two avocado halves filled with fresh tuna with dry-cured black olives.
Gerald Gass

Prep 25 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 45 mins
Appetizer
American
2 to 4 servings

Ingredients 

For the tuna salad

  • 1 tuna steak (about 1 inch thick and 3/4 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds lightly toasted in a dry skillet
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil or more as needed
  • 1 small red onion finely diced
  • 2 celery stalks with some leaves, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons salt-packed capers soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, drained, and chopped
  • 1/3 cups dry-cured black olives pitted and chopped

For the dressing

  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 2 anchovy fillets preferably salt packed, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Olive oil reserved from poaching the tuna plus extra if needed
  • Fresh lemon juice

Directions 

Make the tuna salad

  • Select a saucepan just large enough to hold the tuna steak. Place the fennel seeds and peppercorns in a tea ball or place them in a square of cheesecloth, bring together the corners, and tie securely. Add the spices to the pan with the tuna along with just enough olive oil to cover the fish.
  • Place the pan over very low heat and cook very gently, turning the tuna once halfway through cooking, until the tuna is nearly cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully lift the tuna from the oil with a slotted spatula and transfer it to a plate. Place the tuna in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to stop the cooking. Reserve the poaching oil.
  • When the tuna is cool, break it into rough chunks and place them in a bowl. Add the onion, celery, capers, and olives.

Make the dressing

  • In a small shallow bowl, combine the garlic, anchovies, salt, and pepper, and mash together with a fork. Add the egg yolk and mix well. Whisking constantly, slowly whisk in the reserved olive oil in a thin, steady stream, as you would when making mayonnaise. It may be necessary to add a little more olive oil to make a fairly thick dressing that will cling to the ingredients. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Spoon the dressing over the tuna and vegetable mixture and gently stir to combine. You should have about 2 cups. Taste and adjust the seasoning again. Serve immediately.