I have no idea how professional chefs manage to reproduce the same dishes over and over again; I’ve used this same tuna recipe more often than I can count, and it turns out at least a little different each time, even without half trying.
But then, reproducing the same dinner happens to be exactly what I’m never trying to do at home.
As for an accompaniment to the tuna, I had realized early on that I didn’t really have enough collard greens left from a bunch whose largest portion had been put into service for a previous meal, so I decided to add a second vegetable, some radishes I had almost forgotten were in the crisper, and to add their greens to the collards, or at least those that had still retained their freshness.
The fruits of this improvisation – and good home economy – were delicious, and colorful as well.
- one 12-ounce tuna steak from American Seafood Company in the Union Square Greenmarket (caught on Scott Rucky’s fishing vessel, ‘Dakota’), cut into 2 triangular pieces, tops and bottoms rubbed with a mixture of a tablespoon or so of dry Sicilian fennel seed from Buon Italia and a little crushed dried Itria-Sirissi chili (peperoncino di Sardegna intero), also from Buon Italia, the two having been ground together with mortar and pestle, the surfaces also seasoned with salt and freshly-ground pepper, before they were pan-grilled for only a little more than a minute or so on each side and finished with both a good squeeze of the juice of some tiny local lemons from Fantastic Gardens of New Jersey and a drizzle of olive oil
- a small bunch of ‘French breakfast’ radishes from Eckerton Hill Farm, cleaned and scrubbed, some of the stem retained, sautéed over medium-high heat in a little olive oil inside a heavy tin-lined copper skillet until they had begun to soften and color, seasoned with salt and pepper, sprinkled with fresh lovage from Two Guys from Woodbridge
- a modest amount of tender collard greens from Phillips Farm, stripped of most of their stems, torn into small sections, washed several times and drained, transferred to a smaller bowl very quickly, in order to retain as much of the water clinging to them as possible, braised inside a heavy oval enameled cast iron pot in which one large quartered clove of garlic from Tamarack Hollow Farm had first been allowed to sweat in some olive oil, the collards joined halfway through by some of the greens of the radish roots, adding a little of the reserved water along the way as necessary, finished with salt, pepper, a little of the same crushed dried Sardinian pepperoncino from Buon Italia, and a drizzle of olive oil
- the wine was a Spanish (Galicia) white, Martin Codax Rias Baixas Albarino Burgans 2015, from Philippe Wines
- the music was Roger Reynolds, the pretty awesome, ‘Odyssey’ (1989-92, for 2 singers, ensemble, and computer sound), from ‘The Paris Pieces’