Tastira brings complex flavor to fish
One of the most interesting recipes I experienced during my recent travels is a simple vegetable tastira that accompanies almost every fish dish. It is hard to trace tastira's origins. It is essentially a combination of Sicilian, North African and Andalusia influences.
Since most fish in those areas are served grilled, the tastira sauce brings a certain spiciness and complexity to the meal. I selected albacore tuna because it complements the tastira well.
The ideal way to eat it is to put a bit of tastira on each bite of fish.
At Café Collage, I will be experimenting with a few dishes involving albacore tuna for the next few weeks.
TASTIRA WITH SEARED ALBACORE TUNA
Serves four to six
1 cup olive oil, divided use
1 medium-size onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
1⁄2 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground caraway
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 tablespoon harissa (north African chili paste found in specialty stores)
Kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste
6 small grape tomatoes, quartered
4 farm-fresh eggs
A bit of water, if needed
2 pounds fresh albacore tuna, cut into 1⁄2-inch slices
Kosher salt, ground pepper and cumin
For this particular dish, I prefer to use a large wok. If not available, use a very large frying pan. Heat 1⁄2 cup of oil. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add the bell peppers and cook for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato sauce and cook for another five minutes over low heat. Add all the spices, harissa, salt and pepper and mix together well. Transfer the mixture to a large ceramic bowl.
Clean the wok or frying pan and use it to sauté the tomatoes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for five minutes. Add the tomatoes to the mixture in the bowl.
Clean the wok or frying pan once more and then fry the eggs in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add them to the mixture in the bowl. Using two sharp knives and cutting in opposite directions, chop through the mixture until all the ingredients are finely cut. Set the tastira aside.
Rub the tuna slices with salt, pepper and cumin.
In a large frying pan, sauté the tuna in 1⁄4 cup of olive oil to the desired temperature. Do not overcook the fish because it hardens and becomes too firm.
Serve the tastira while warm with a portion of the seared albacore tuna.