Cookbook Profile

Pepper-Pecan-Encrusted Tuna
with Fresh Mango Salsa

Serves 4


We love the way everything works together in this simple dish. The tangy salsa cools the fire of the cracked peppercorns, the bourbon subtly enhances the flavor of the pecans, and the texture of the crisp nut crust makes a delightful contrast with the tender seared tuna. The brief marinating period helps take the chill off the fish so that, when it's cooked, its rare center isn't cold. You can use less pepper if you like, but do crack it yourself instead of using cracked pepper from a jar—the flavor will be much more lively and fresh. If you don't have a pepper mill that gives a very coarse grind, put the peppercorns in a skillet (to keep them from rolling around) and crush them under a heavy pot.

Mango Salsa

2 ripe mangoes (about 3/4 pound each),
     peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro or mint
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon sugar

To make the salsa:

In a medium bowl, combine mangoes, onion, lime juice, cilantro, salt, and sugar. Toss gently to mix. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 hour to blend flavors.

Pepper-Pecan Encrusted Tuna

1/2 cup pecan chips
4 tuna steaks (6 to 8 ounces each), about 1 inch thick
4 teaspoons bourbon (optional)
1-1/2 teaspoons coarse-grained salt
2 tablespoons freshly cracked pepper
cilantro sprigs for garnish.

To prepare the fish:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread pecans on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan. Bake, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned and fragrant, 5 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

Rub each side of each tuna steak with 1/2 teaspoon bourbon; season steaks lightly with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. In a small bowl, combine pecans with the pepper. Divide mixture evenly among tuna steaks, pressing gently into both sides. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature.

Sprinkle a 10- to 12-inch frying pan with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and place over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add fish without crowding. Pressing fish onto pan with a spatula, cook 2 minutes to sear. Turn fish over and cook until seared on the outside but still pink in the center, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer fish to a clean work surface. Let sit 1 minute, then cut fish on an angle into 1/2-inch slices. Spoon salsa off-center on each of 4 dinner plates. Arrange the tuna slices on the plates, overlapping them slightly.


Buy the Book!


by Tina Salter
Ten Speed Press
$29.95 (CAN $48.00)
ISBN: 1-58008-347-1
256 pages, Hardcover (cloth)
Full-color photographs
Recipe reprinted by permission.





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This page created March 2002