Our local wine shop hosts weekly wine tastings as well as periodic wine classes that emphasize wine and food pairings. So, of course, with the wine classes there is food. One of the featured dishes at the most recent class was oil-poached tuna salad. It was delicious and refreshing. I thought I would try to copy it. I found that there were lots of recipes for oil-poached fish to be found on the internet. They all sounded good although there was a lot of variation in the instructions on how to cook the fish. There were also ingredients that didn’t appeal to me. The wine class version included cooked fennel. I thought I would opt for the refreshing crunch of raw fennel. Otherwise, I decided to wing it with my own recipe. In any event, I was determined not to replicate the tuna salad of sandwich fame that is made with canned tuna. Probably everyone has had one of those in a brown bag lunch. There is no worry: olive oil poached tuna tastes nothing like the canned variety.
Olive Oil Poached Tuna Salad with Fennel
- fennel bulb with stems and fronds still attached
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
- about 3 cups olive oil (no need to use extra virgin)
- 10 ounces ahi tuna
- 4 tablespoons champagne vinegar, divided
- 6 small cremini mushrooms, quartered
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 ribs celery, sliced thinly
- 5 scallions including green tops, sliced thinly on the bias
- 1 tablespoon chopped pimento
- ½ cup small pitted black olives drained and cut in half
- 1 ripe avocado, ½ inch dice
- salt and pepper
- Romaine lettuce leaves
- Trim the stems and fronds from the fennel bulb. Cut the stems into 1-3 inch pieces. Chop 3 tablespoons of the fronds and set aside to add to the finished salad. Slice the fennel bulb horizontally using a mandoline. Set aside the sliced fennel bulb.
- In a saucepan that is just large enough to hold the tuna in a single layer, combine the chopped fennel stems and fronds, garlic, and olive oil. Bring to the boil for about 5 minutes, reduce the heat to low, and add the tuna. The hot oil should cover the tuna. Turn off the heat and poach the tuna, uncovered, basting from time to time with the hot oil and turning once during the poaching. Poach for 20 minutes. Remove the tuna to a plate. Strain the oil into a small bowl.
- Place the quartered mushrooms in a small container that can be firmly sealed. Add 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and 6 tablespoons of the poaching oil. Cover tightly, and turn from time to time to make sure the mushrooms are well-marinated.
- Prepare a vinaigrette by combining the remaining vinegar and dry mustard in a small bowl or measuring cup. Slowly whisk in by drizzles 7 tablespoons of the poaching oil. Set aside for final assembly of the salad.
- With a sharp knife. cut the tuna into bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add the marinated mushrooms, celery, scallions, pimento, olives, avocado, and reserved chopped fennel fronds. Gently stir in the vinaigrette, making sure that the salad is well mixed. Serve on Romaine lettuce leaves.