By Kerstin Rodgers (@MsMarmitelover)
By July we should be having enough good weather to chance the barbeque. I say should, but the British reality is that during our summer, we are just as likely to have rain as we are sunshine. So the recipe I’m about to give you will work both on the barbeque outside, using a cast iron pan or a ridged grill pan, but can also be pimped indoors.
Rich, heavy, spicy red wines, often high in alcohol, (most of the ones I recommend here are 14%) are mostly associated with winter, accompanying meat stews and cheese boards (although I believe the latest orthodoxy is that cheese no longer matches wine, what rot!). But I favour these wines with outdoor eating, especially if you are on holiday, where you do not have to remain sober for the day. On vacation, lunch can be lengthy, stretching all afternoon and blending into the evening. When we’re abroad, we even permit ourselves wine twice a day, at lunch and at dinner.
This month’s recipe is sesame seared tuna with strawberry and basil bruschetta. A little unusual – and so incredibly easy it can be made in minutes.
Strawberries are very similar to tomatoes, in that they contain a flavour compound called Strawberry Furanone. It sounds strange but these two fruits are almost interchangeable. I once made a tomato salad with cream and sugar for one of my supper clubs; guests thought that they were eating strawberries! Try it, you will be surprised!
It’s a cliché to match strawberries with dessert or sweet wines. Is this because of their pretty colour? Well I disagree, try them with spicy red wines. I really think strawberries need a new image: forget Wimbledon, forget dessert, forget pairing with champagne, let’s play up their crisp juicy but robust texture and the acidity that underlies the sweetness.
Seared sesame tuna with strawberry bruschetta (serves 4)
Equipment: heavy frying pan or grill pan
8 slices of sourdough bread
50ml olive oil
16 strawberries, sliced thinly
Small fresh basil leaves
4 x 250g ahi tuna steaks (I used yellow tail)
50ml olive oil
50ml toasted sesame oil
Wasabi paste (optional)
200g of sesame seeds both black and white
Instructions: Toast your sourdough slices then drizzle a little oil on the bread. Layer on the strawberry slices, add a few tiny leaves of fresh basil and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Rinse and pat dry your tuna steaks.
Mix the olive oil and sesame oil together in a small bowl, sprinkle with sea salt. Add the wasabi or horseradish sauce, if you have it.
Pour the sesame seeds (a mix of black and white looks good or you can buy a special Japanese mix called furikake seasoning) into a plate. Brush the each tuna steak with the oil mixture then press the steaks down firmly in the seed mix, then turn it over so that the other side is covered with the sesame seeds too.
Prepare your barbecue and frying pan/grill pan; you want it very hot. Once hot, brush the pan with the rest of the oil and press the sesame covered tuna steaks into the pan. Do not cook for long if you like your tuna seared. You just want the edges to be cooked and the centre raw.
Once cooked to the degree that you like, remove from the pan and leave to rest for a few minutes…this makes them easier to slice. Spread the slices on a bed of green salad leaves. Eat with the strawberry bruschetta.
I’ve been drinking:
Chakalaka Spice route (2011), £12,14%,
a South African red named after one of my favourite South African dishes, a spicy curry flecked tomato sauce often served with beans. Chakalaka is Zulu for ‘together’ and the makers say this wine brings together a complex blend of flavours.
Malbec Punto Final Renacer (2011) £10,
14% from Argentina – An ideal barbeque wine especially with steak.
I spent a few months in Argentina and any self-respecting Argentine has a barbeque grill in their boot of their car. I paid an Argentine cabbie to drive me to Cueva de los manos in Patagonia, a cave with pre-historic paintings of hands. On arrival at the cave, he opened the boot and took out a grill, two beef steaks the size of a man’s buttock and a bottle of Malbec. He gathered a few sticks and made a fire, grilling the steaks. That was his lunch! No salad, nothing else, just meat and wine.
Primitivo di manduria (2010) £25,14.5%
Woo hoo! Cue the thrashing guitars! Cue Blur! (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm-ihSFC280) A bit pricey, true, with a full whack of alcohol. Make sure you have the rest of the day off as you will spend it in a sweet haze of mildly drunk contentment.
Adobe Carmenère, Emiliana Organic (2012), £8, 14%
This Chilean wine is made from the country’s favourite Carmenère grape, part of the Cabernet family. It’s one of the pre-phylloxera French grapes and was thought to be almost extinct. For many years Chilean growers thought that it was a variety of Merlot, and it was only discovered in 1994. A medal winner, this wine will go really well with any grilled meats and fish.
Soalheiro Alvarinho (2012), £15, 12.8%
I adore vinho verde, which is a ‘green’ wine, meaning young. It’s the perfect drink for oily fish such as sardines. I remember drinking it with grilled sardines sprinkled with fresh mint in tiny steep back street restaurants in Lisbon, tables and chairs perched outside.
Pasq Grenach Cinsault Rosé (2013) £7, 12.5%
This French rosé is your typical hot weather/lunchtime wine, particularly good with barbeque salmon steaks, doused with pastis and served with a potato, sour cream and fennel flower salad.