Tuna Niçoise - seared tuna steaks on a Niçoise salad bed with eggs and anchovies


And so this was Christmas, another year gone. Tomorrow is first day back at work, yikes.  We took all the Christmas decorations down today, very disciplined we are. Well, technically we are not, husband is. But I did all the work inside the house, took down the different lights around the house and packed away the other decorations, stripped the Christmas tree and folded it back into it's box. We have an artificial one you see, because as much as I love a real tree and the smell of it, it makes me too sad to kill a real tree and then just discard it after Christmas. So artificial it is and it is quite pretty and has served us 7 or 8 Christmases I think. Every year it seems to be harder to get it back into it's original box. I don't think it wants to go.

And husband took down all the decorations outside. It's important we have very clearly agreed areas of responsibility, because he is very stubborn when it comes to the methodology and order he wants to proceed and he doesn't take my (excellent) advice at all. So during our years together we have learned to do our separate bits and just occasionally help the other who has got completely tangled in wires. Otherwise we keep to our individual areas. Apparently lots of passers by stopped and told husband how much they had enjoyed our lights while he was working there in our front garden in his cute bright red reindeer Christmas jumper. The man is always dressed up for the occasion.

I am determined not to feel sad about this or dwell in thoughts about how much I was looking forward to the break, all the plans I had and how happy I was at the prospect of two weeks of freedom and cooking. No, none of that. I will look forward to the longer days, summer and BBQ season.

Luckily we've been relatively sensible this holiday season and I've managed to squeeze some running and gym in, so I am not the size of a house. That's a comfort.

Nevertheless I still wanted to do a light dinner today. We ate a lot yesterday. We met up with my old work colleagues, we were 10 adults and 3 kids and we had a very noisy and fun day. We met in Henley-on-Thames where one of the group lives to have dinner at his house, but first met for lunch in a local pub, The Little Angel. service was a bit haphazard and slow, but food was very good. It was soup of the day for starters for both of us, husband had chicken for his main course and I had a prawn and chorizo linguine, which was very nice.

We then had a walk around the pretty town centre and by the river where there was a little play area for kids and a coffee shop with tea for husband. And we then slowly made our way to my friend's house where we were given drinks while he and his wife started preparing the most amazing Asian food. Their family roots are in Hong Kong, so they cooked a few things from different Asian countries. There were Korean vegetarian dumplings with a dipping sauce, Chinese lettuce wraps with two different fillings - a vegetarian tofu and a turkey mince one, Vietnamese fried spring rolls, Chinese aromatic duck pancakes, Japanese Gyozas and a very clever noodle salad made with sweet potato noodles, which thank God they hadn't done themselves from scratch. There was enough cooking genius there to make anyone feel inadequate already. Although I had no time for such thoughts because I was busy stuffing my face.

Korean vegetarian dumplings, Chinese lettuce wraps, Vietnamese fried spring rolls, Chinese aromatic duck pancakes, Japanese Gyozas

The dessert was perfect too, after all the spices and tastes, some fresh melon and mango and a delicate and not too sweet mango swiss roll. Our hostess is actually a trained pastry chef, so it was faultless.

Mango Swiss roll

Husband loved it all too and was going on about the spring rolls all the way from Henley back to London. So I asked my friend for the recipe and he send me this one. They had substituted pork with turkey mince, because several of the party don't eat pork and also used spring roll pastry rather than rice paper wrappers, which gives me confidence. I once tried vegetarian spring rolls, but they came out all wrong, they sort of exploded a bit, so they looked awful, but they also tasted horrible and the texture was all wrong. So not a roaring success really. I'm sure was the rice paper.

My today's salad is not pretending to be a completely classic Nicoise salad, but utilises most of the same ingredients. I had some string beans but they were looking a bit sad and past their best before date, so I left them out. And I used quail eggs rather than normal eggs, because I happened to have some. Not that I am the kind of person who just happens to have quail eggs lying around any time, but I bought some for Christmas and hadn't used them.

I served the tuna from the pan rather that on top of the salad to keep it warm, but particularly if you leave it quite raw, it's nice to slice into strips and serve on the salad platter. 

Pan seared fresh tuna steaks on Nicoise salad bed

2-3 tbsp olive oil
4 sustainable tuna steaks
Zest and juice of half a lime
Juice of half an orange
Splash of soy sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
Vegetable oil and a knob of butter to fry
Lemon wedges to serve

Baby lettuce, romaine or iceberg lettuce
Handful of small heirloom tomatoes or 2-3 large ones
2-3 spring onions
1 cucumber
Black olives
1 tbsp Cappers
5-6 anchovies
12 quail eggs or 4 chicken eggs
16 small salad potatoes (or new potatoes)
Fresh herb of choice, basil would work nicely, I used dill.

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper

Place the tuna steaks on a plate or bowl and add all the marinade ingredients. Make sure all steaks are evenly covered with the marinade. Leave to sit covered in the fridge for at least  a couple of hours.

To prepare the salad slice or chop your tomatoes and cucumber, you can core the cucumber if you like. Thinly slice the onion, pit the olives and chop the herbs.

Boil your potaoes in salted water until you can easily pierce them with a fork. Drain, drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle on a pinch of the chopped herbs. Cover with kitchen towel to soak up the steam and keep warm until serving. You can add the to the salad whole or slice, half or quarter. I left mine whole because I wanted them to keep warm.

Hardboil the eggs. Bring water to boil and place eggs in water carefully with a spoon. Quail eggs take two and a half minutes and chicken eggs 10 minutes. Drain and leave for a minute then cover with cold water for a short while. Peal and half if using quail eggs, quarter if using chicken eggs.

Heat the oil and butter on a pan and sear the tuna steaks on high heat to your desired doneness. Tuna is supposed to be server raw inside, so it only needs a quick sear on both sides.

Assemble the salad on a large platter the way you like, either in layers or sections. Mix the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad. Cut the tuna into strips and serve on top of the salad, or serve as whole steaks from the pan.

You Might Also Like