Fishermen's Tuna

Atún en Adobo

This recipe is midway between a Spanish escabeche and a Latin American adobo, with the fish briefly cooked and then left to marinate in the same liquid. The recipe comes from Ranchos de a bordo, published by the Ministry of Agriculture, a book of dishes from the fishing boats in the 1930s and 1940s. The author adds two pieces of advice: go easy with the cumin and pound everything well for the adobo.

Servings: 6

Prep Time: 25 min.[PT25M]

Cook Time: 10 min.[PT10M]


4 - 1/2 lb of fresh red or big-eye tuna, skinned, boned and cut into 2'- thick slices
For the adobo:
4 clovesgarlic
1 tsp cumin
2 wine glasses of good wine vinegar
2 cups extra virgin olive oil (or enough to cover the fish)
1 level tsp pimentónsweet or bittersweet
1 bay leaf


Make the adobo: pound the garlic, cumin, vinegar, and salt and mix them with the oil in a large flameproof earthenware dish or pan in which the fish fits. Finally, add the pimentón and bay leaf. Heat very gently for 8-10 minutes. Remove and cool. Cover and chill until required.

Remove the skin and from the tuna and cut it into slices (or ask your fishmonger to prepare the fish for you). Beat the adobo ingredients, except for the bay leaf, and put into a wide deep heavy-bottomed earthenware pot, like a cazuela, or a frying pan where the tuna will fit easily in a single layer.

Lay the tuna in the adobo, so it is completely covered - top up with a little more olive oil if you need more liquid - and cook very gently for about 8-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish slices.

Take off the heat and leave to cool, cover and chill. If you can leave this for at least a day for the flavors to soak into the fish. Bring to room temperature to serve gently warmed through with potatoes, or rice, or at room temperature in the summer with plenty of good bread.

A note about the fish: the tuna can be any member of the tuna family. In the old days this would have been made with red tuna, or today bonito, but today lesser known small fish are used.

Selected by Vicky Hayward
Recipe courtesy of Spain GourmeTour magazine.

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