Nathan likes to cook – unless, of course, the alternative is a night in with a pizza, cheap red wine, and Pink Floyd on the stereo. It’s an attitude that I can understand, but I do appreciate that the pizza is not a food group.
I went to the fish stall on the Cannaregio canal this morning and picked up two splendid tuna steaks. Caroline had a salad Nicoise in mind. Now, as much as I appreciate a decent Nicoise, a good one can take a bit of preparation and so I need some protein at the end of it as a reward. So my version goes a little bit off-piste.
The basic recipe comes from the redoubtable Felicity Cloake :-
Felicity Cloake’s Salade Nicoise
– and the addition is, simply, some fresh tuna. I know some people might be horrified at this but, dammit, after an evening in the kitchen I need something more than just a salad. I think the trick is not to flake it and toss it in with the salad, neither is it to put a great thick slab of tuna steak on top of the salad (which will just steam it and make it unpleasantly soggy).
- Choose your music. I went with early to mid-period Beatles here, but – if you prefer – Pink Floyd will work equally well.
- Follow Felicity’s recipe above, and assemble the salad on the plate (I put the eggs directly into boiling water and cook for seven minutes, which gives a nice sticky yolk. I also like to layer the anchovies over the eggs, just to look a little bit more cheffy).
- When you’re done, take your tuna steaks. Pat them dry, and just wipe them over with a little olive oil. Give them a good grinding of salt and pepper.
- Stick a decent, heavy pan on a medium-high heat. You don’t want it to be smoking away at a terrifying temperature, but just enough for your steaks to sizzle. Then just sear each edge of the steaks, no more than ten seconds a side.
- My steaks were just under an inch thick and so ninety seconds a side is fine. Then slice them into strips about the width of your little finger and add them to the plate.
With a bit of luck it will all look something like this. If it doesn’t, well, I’m sure it will still be nice. And if it isn’t, do what Nathan would do and head out for a pizza…