Marinated tuna amd purslane salad
Tuna is not a fish immediately associated with Greek cuisine, even though the Aegean is home to some of the best fresh tuna in the world. Most Greeks, in fact, refer to the smaller tunny fish, basically a kind of mackerel, as tuna, forgetting the schools of long fin, yellow fin, and other species that ply Greek waters.
There are, though, several places in the Aegean, where tuna is abundant. In the eastern Aegean, the fish frequents the waters of the Ikaria Sea, between Ikaria and Hios, as well as in the waters near Elafonisos, off the shores of Mani. Fishing for tuna is an art in itself. Before the days of dragnets, tuna was caught with a long line and hook. The trick was to attract the fish to the bait, and then to tease it on the hooks, by making it swim and swim, until it, more or less, exhausted itself. Nowadays, of course, tuna gets caught up together with a host of other fish in dragnets. They're supposed to be forbidden, but are still common practice. Most fresh Greek tuna is bought up by the Japanese, who savor it as the king of the sea.
Greeks Cook Tuna
Greeks tend to prefer white-fleshed fish and often consider the dark, meat like flesh of the tuna, as somehow inferior. It is still a fish that is difficult to find in the local neighborhood fish market. In order to find it, one has to venture down to the Central Market in Athens, or to happen upon it at some island fishmonger's. A few Greek seafood chefs, however, have found inspiration in Aegean tuna, among them, Lefteris Lazarou of Varoulko, and Gianis Safos of Thalata.
Marinated Tuna and Purslane Salad:
(Adapted from a recipe by chef Gianis Safos. For 4 people)
600 gr. (about 1 1/3 pounds) of fresh tuna filet
1 tablespoon of honey
Juice of five lemons
1 small bunch of dill, finely chopped
1 small bunch of marjoram, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of grated ginger
1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 bunch of fresh purslane
½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
1. Cut the tuna into paper-thin slices. Combine all the ingredients for the marinade and marinate the tuna in the refrigerator for 2 days to "cook" it in the lemon juice.
2. Before serving, wash and trim the purslane. Place on a platter or on individual serving plates. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pour over the purslane. Place the fish on top and drizzle with marinade. Serve immediately.
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