Tuna Fish Grilled
(“Tonno Arrosto alla
family and on many tables in Palermo, tuna fish is mostly a simple preparation: the slices of very fresh tuna, ½
“ thick are dredged into flour and fried in a hot pan sprinkled with salt and some olive oil. The slices are
fried 2 to 3 minutes on each side and served with lemon wedges.
Another well-liked way to prepare the tuna, it is to marinade and broil it or in the
favored “Palermo style” which is to grill the thick slices on a very hot barbecue, blasting it with marinade and
cooking it so it remains moist on the inside and golden, crispy on the outside.
tuna can also be cooked in a variety of sauces, or it can be baked.
any way you cook it, it’s a nutritious, healthy and a delightful dish.
The tasty flesh of the tuna ranges in color from white albacore, to the pink yellow fin
and from the light red to the dark red of the bluefin tuna
swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and
caught in the Mediterranean Sea and
in areas of the West Atlantic Ocean.
red color of the tuna change after hours it is caught and although the fish is fresh if for some reason the
color is not the perfect shade, then the ingenuity of a dedicated cook can transform this shortcoming into a
gourmand and incomparable delicacy.
fact the marinated “Tuna Fish Palermo Style” is kind of a remedy when tuna fish is slightly less than the ideal
color or class.
the tuna is marinated, it absorbs the flavors of the ingredients of the marinade which enhances its taste, also
the acidity contained in it lightens the flesh’s color and it improves its appearance and ends up becoming an
ideal candidate for grilling.
not marinate fish more than ½ hour, because the acidity of the marinade would break down the proteins and the
tuna would become spongy and mushy.
- 4 slices of tuna fish, 3/4 “to 1” thick 6 to 8 oz.
- 1 lemon cut into wedges for garnish
- The Marinade
- ¼ cup of boiling water
- ¾ cup of olive oil
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 2 large lemons squeezed, seeds removed
- ½ teaspoon of oregano
- 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Whisk ½ cup of olive oil in a small
bowl and while beating it, add the boiling water, a little at a time. Continue whipping for a few minutes, then
add the lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, garlic, parsley, salt and fresh milled black pepper. Check the
seasoning and adjust accordingly. Cover and refrigerate. It can be made 1 day ahead.
the tuna steaks with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place it in a glass or non aluminum pan and pour
over ½ of the marinade; reserve the other half: it will be used to garnish and infuse extra taste to the cooked
the tuna a few times to thoroughly coat it. After ½ hour, take the fish out of the marinade, pat dry with a
paper towel and transfer into a dish containing the remaining oil; season with salt and black pepper to taste
and turn the tuna a few times to thoroughly coat it. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook it. Reserve the
marinade to be used for basting when cooking the tuna.
can be done a few hours ahead.
the tuna in the oil, out from the refrigerator half an hour before cooking, along with the marinade used to
infuse the tuna, and the reserved marinade to be used for garnish.
Preheat the grill: cooking has to be done fast and at a high
necessary to get the grill as hot as possible so the tuna won’t be dry on the inside. If using a charcoal
burning grill, a heavy layer of ashy white coal is needed, if using a gas or electric grill, set it as high as
it will go.
pastry brush to oil the grill’s grate.
the tuna onto the oil a few times to coat it thoroughly.
the slices into the grill and cook for 3 minutes; flip with a spatula and grill the other side for 3
the pastry brush for continuously basting the tuna with the leftover marinade used to infuse it. Flip it again
and grill for an additional 2 minutes on each side. Discard any leftover marinade used for
optional that as you are flipping the tuna the second time, to rotate each slice at a 45 degrees angle to get
diamond marks from the grill’s grate; do it to enhance its presentation.
Transfer the tuna steaks to a serving platter; garnish with lemon wedges and spoon over some of the
reserved marinade. Serve with the remaining marinade on the side; add an assorted salad and hot
bread. Good wines
to pair with the grilled tuna are the Sicilian Etna Rosso by Grace, or a California Zinfandel or a young Pinot
- Grill the tuna for a total 5 minutes for each side for medium, add 1 or 2
minutes for each side for well done or cook it to your preferred doneness. It is advisable to cook the tuna
steak for 5 minutes on each side for every inch of thickness.
- If broiling the tuna use the same directions. Broil the steaks 4 to 5 inches
from the heat source.
- The Sicilian saying, “Cuoci a carne crura e pisci cottu” which translate, “Cook
the meat rare and the fish well done”, does not apply to “Tuna
Fish Palermitana” and in fact if the tuna being a lean
fish if cooked behind medium (5 minutes on each side) it will be dry on the inside: so grill the tuna in as
a brief time as possible to sear it on the outside and to get a moist and translucent
- In Trapani the sword fish is grilled “arianatu” with a simple marinade made with lot of fresh
oregano, olive oil and garlic.
- In Catania the preferred marinade is prepared with olive oil aromatized lemon zest, mint and anchovy
fillets, finely chopped.