Paper Chef 41: Gravad Tuna

It's time for Paper Chef again, the monthly cook-with-four-chosen-ingredients food blog competition! Last month, we were all winners - Bron Marshall gave out awards to all the competitors and we were awarded the finest of all: the Mmm…Now That’s Terrifically Tasty Award for our Thyme Scented Prosciutto-Potato Swirls with Chèvre.

There was also an overall winner: Alison of Local Lemons who got to pick the ingredients for this installation of Paper Chef. She spent some time in Las Vegas, and took the opportunity to use the roulette wheel to pick: Asparagus, Artichokes, and Tuna. Keeping with the Las Vegas theme, Alison picked Vodka as her ingredient of choice.

As our faithful readers might have noted, we're no strangers to using liquor in our cooking, so this was right up our alley! We decided to do a starter, inspired by the traditional Swedish dish gravlax. The "grav" comes from the "cooking" process, and "lax" is just Swedish for salmon. Visitors to IKEA might be familiar with this dish. But it's possible to use the same process on other types of fish, and as this month's Paper Chef called for tuna, that's what we "gravade". (And here we treat you to a free lesson in Swedish verb conjugation!)

Normally the process of "gravning" takes two days, but it's possible to use alcohol as a catalyst, speeding up the process. Luckily for us, one of the ingredients was alcohol! The 2 day process is for a whole side of salmon, but we used carpaccio style tuna slices, speeding up the process to a mere three hours.

For the other ingredients we kept it quite simple, using the artichoke as a flavoring for an aioli, and just steamed the asparagus to keep its fresh taste. We also made grilled bread to go with the dish. This made a quite hefty starter, kind of halfway to a full main course.

The gravad tuna was just lovely - flavorful and translucent. The asparagus complemented the dish well with its fresh and springy taste. The artichoke aioli was a hit with the tuna, and we'll definitely make that one again as a dipping sauce or together with grilled meat.

Gravad Tuna

with Asparagus
and Artichoke Aioli

Gravad tuna

225 g tuna fish in very thin slices (we had three slices)
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp white pepper
2 cl vodka
2 tbsp dill (we used frozen)

Mix the salt, sugar and pepper. Rub the mixture into both sides of the tuna slices. Place them on a big plate, pour over the vodka and put the dill on top. Cover with plastic film and place in the fridge for at least three hours, turning the slices over halfway through.

Artichoke Aioli
2 artichoke hearts, grilled and stored in oil and garlic
2 tbsp mayonnaise

Mix the ingredients into a paste. This had enough garlic in it to qualify as an aioli, but if not add more garlic.

Steam the asparagus for about 10 minutes. If you don't have a steamer, you could also boil it in lightly salted water.

Cut some Italian style bread in 1" slices and cut each slice in half lengthtwise. Pour some oil on top (we used cold pressed rape seed oil) and add some coarse sea salt. Grill in the oven at 175°C until the bread is golden brown (we grilled it at 225°C which was too much, so 175°C is our best guess...).

Place a slice of tuna on a plate, and put some asparagus on top. Serve with the artichoke aioli in a glass on the side with the bread on top.

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