Black tuna niçoise, pimento mousse, green beans, quail eggs

Black tuna niçoise, pimento mousse, green beans, quail eggs

By
From
New Classics
Serves
6-8
Photographer
Mark Roper

This is a new version of the classic ‘salad niçoise’. I use all the usual suspects here, but tweaked and beautified into a showstopper – if I do say so myself.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 piece fresh tuna, about 600 g
100ml light olive oil
salt flakes and pepper
1 olive baguette or loaf, extremely thinly sliced
12 quail eggs
200ml white vinegar
500g fresh green beans
a few pimento strips
2 shallots, finely diced
1 tablespoon friendly salad dressing, (see note)
baby basil leaves

Tapenade

Quantity Ingredient
155g good-quality black olives, pitted
1 tablespoon salted capers, soaked in cold water for several hours then drained well
2 anchovy fillets
garlic, roughly chopped
10 basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 x 25g squid ink
or 1 tablespoon squid ink, available from good fishmongers (optional)

Pimento mousse

Quantity Ingredient
3 leaves gelatine, soaked in cold water
325g tinned piquillo peppers
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt
250ml thickened cream, softly whipped

Method

  1. For the tapenade

    Place all the tapenade ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is smooth but not too aerated.

  2. For the tuna

    Using a long and very sharp knife, skin the tuna following the shape of the fish, to make a nice round piece. Remove any excess flesh from the skin and refrigerate or freeze for another use. Carefully remove the very dark flesh, or blood line, which is very strong in flavour and unpleasantly bitter. Season the tuna with salt flakes and pepper.
  3. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over high heat, add the light olive oil and sear the tuna, rolling to colour all the way around.
  4. Spread a long sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface, then top with another sheet. Spread out the tapenade on the plastic, using a spatula to spread it out to a size that matches the circumference and the width of tuna.
  5. Place the tuna at one end of the tapenade and then carefully roll up the plastic, to coat the fish with the tapenade. (You may need to do some patching here and there.) Roll the plastic wrap all the way over and around the tuna then twist the ends to secure. Refrigerate until serving.
  6. For the pimento mousse

    Squeeze the excess water out of the gelatine leaves and dissolve them in 1 tablespoon boiling water.
  7. Drain the liquid from the peppers and purée until smooth in a blender. Add the gelatine mixture while still warm. Blend to combine. Pour the mixture into a bowl and place that bowl over another larger bowl half-filled with iced water. Season the mixture with the sherry vinegar, cayenne pepper and salt and stir over the iced water until the mixture starts to thicken. Now, using a rubber spatula, fold in a third of the cream until very well combined, then gently fold in the rest. Pour into a container and refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.
  8. For the friendly salad dressing

    Crush the garlic clove with the salt using a mortar and pestle. Add the Dijon mustard. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add the lemon juice and sherry (or white wine vinegar). Grind in some white pepper then whisk in the extra-virgin olive oil. Check the seasoning. (You won’t need this amount all at once but it keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week. Just take it out of the refrigerator for a while before use and shake well to re-emulsify.)
  9. For the garnish

    Put the olive bread in a very low oven until dried and crispy, about 1 hour.
  10. Bring two saucepans of water to the boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to each. Have two bowls of iced water at hand. Cook the quail eggs in one of the pans for 2 minutes and 15 seconds then, using a slotted spoon, lift them out of the water and lower into the iced water. Add the vinegar and leave for 1 hour. (This will soften the shell and make them much easier to peel.)
  11. Meanwhile, plunge the green beans into the other pan of boiling water for 1 minute then drain and drop into the other bowl of iced water. Drain the beans and trim off the stalk end.
  12. Carefully peel the quail eggs and rinse in cold water.
  13. To serve

    Cut the beans lengthways, but randomly and, in a bowl, dress with the strips of pimento, the shallots and friendly dressing. Using a very long sharp knife, slice the tuna into 6–8 rounds, about 1.5 cm thick. Clean the knife after each slice, then remove the rings of plastic wrap. Put a spoonful of pimento mousse onto each serving plate. Put a slice of tuna on each then arrange the bean salad on the side. Cut the quail eggs in half and add to the dishes. Finish with the crispy olive bread, garnish with the baby basil leaves and serve.

Friendly salad dressing

  • The dressing I use is a very simple and old-fashioned vinaigrette – crush 1 garlic clove (germ removed) with 1 teaspoon salt using a mortar and pestle. Add 1 tablespoon dijon mustard. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and add 100 ml each lemon juice and sherry (or white wine vinegar). Grind in some white pepper then whisk in 400 ml extra-virgin olive oil. Check the seasoning. You won’t need this amount all at once but it keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week. Just take it out of the refrigerator for a while before use and shake well to re-emulsify.
Tags:
Philippa
Phillipa
Sibley
European
restaurant
chef
high
end
fine
dining
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