This recipe (from the City Kitchen blog on the NY Times) was supposedly all about the joys of slow-cooked tuna (NOT out of a can!) and fresh shell beans.
I'm all for the slow food movement. And I'm all for fresh shelled beans. I'll even give an "amen!" to the non-canned tuna. But unless a farmer's market and local fishery show up outside my door tomorrow, there was no way I was going to acquire either "crucial" item for this recipe.
So I improvised.
Fresh skinless albacore tuna morphed into haddock and the fresh shell beans became the frozen broad beans stocked by your friendly neighborhood Tesco. The best of all possible worlds? Certainly not. But, alas, this is what we have to work with. And, honestly, skin on fish is not the end of the world. Man up, people. It's delicious.
Anyway, don't get me wrong, this "salad" does take some time. But not nearly enough time as I feared. The fish cooks in about 20 minutes, during which time you can be doing all the slicing and dicing and reheating of frozen broad beans required. Speaking of how you cook the fish...you don't cook it. You poach it. In olive oil.
I'm often wary of cooking fish, because I dread the schoolboy error of overcooking it and turning it into some sort of dry tasteless slop. Why don't they tell you there's an easy solution to this? Bathe that sucker in olive oil! Unless you forget the fish is in the oven and wander away in a fog, there's almost no physical way to overcook this. Granted, the less time the fish spends in the oven, the better. But still. Almost foolproof.
Time: About 1 hour
For the Fish:
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used guajillo chiles)
½ teaspoon marjoram
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 small rosemary sprig(or 2 tsp. dried rosemary)
½ cup olive oil, approximately
For the Salad:
1 cup finely diced red and yellow bell pepper
½ cup finely diced sweet white or red onion
A pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small garlic clove, smashed to a paste with a little salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon chopped basil or mint, or 1 teaspoon chopped marjoram
2 cups cooked shell beans (from about 2 pounds in the pod, or, you guessed it, cooked from frozen, just like nature intended)
2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and halved, optional.
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the albacore into inch-thick slices and place them in a small ovenproof dish. Season generously with salt and pepper. Put the red pepper flakes and marjoram in a mortar or spice mill and make a rough powder. Sprinkle over the fish. Add the garlic and rosemary. Add oil to a depth of ½ inch.
2. Cover the dish and place in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the slices over, then return to the oven for another 10 minutes. The albacore should be cooked through, but barely. Let the fish cool in its dish, uncovered. Store the fish in its cooking juices in the refrigerator for up to a week. Bring to room temperature to serve.
3. To make the salad, toss the peppers, onion, pepper flakes, vinegar, garlic and olive oil in a large serving bowl. Season well with salt and pepper and stir in the basil, mint or marjoram. Add the shell beans, draining them well first, and the cooked albacore, broken into large pieces, and mix together. Serve with hard-boiled eggs, if you like.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.