This simple dish lets the flavours shine: the slight liquorice hint from the ground fennel and warmth of the cumin pair beautifully with the fresh tuna.
500 gram piece tuna
1 tablespoon olive oil
lemon wedges for serving
1½ teaspoons ground fennel
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme
pinch of piment d’espelette or ground chilli
sea salt and freshly
White Bean, Witlof and Fennel Salad
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 x 400 gram tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 fennel bulb
1 head witlof
Fennel rub: Place all the ingredients in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Using the back of a teaspoon, crush together until well combined.
Tuna: Cut the tuna into thick logs and sprinkle each one with the rub, gently pressing it on to adhere.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan and when hot add the tuna and sear for about 20 seconds on all sides.
Transfer to a plate and rest for at least 15 minutes.
Slice thickly and serve at room temperature with lemon wedges, the following salad and a bowl of cornichons if desired.
Pantry note: Piment d’espelette is the famous red gold pepper of the Basque region. It has an appealing slightly smoky non-aggressive heat and imparts a distinctive flavour to recipes. Available from specialty food stores and some supermarkets.
White Bean, Witlof and Fennel Salad: Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and mustard in a bowl and season.
Pour half the dressing over the beans and toss to coat. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Trim the tops of the fennel, reserving the fronds. Slice very thinly using a mandolin or knife. Toss with the remaining dressing and place alongside the beans.
Separate the witlof leaves and tuck into the fennel. Roughly chop the fennel fronds and scatter over the salad and tuna.