Fire roasted peppers are the star of this dish, and a quick buzz in the blender turns them into a sweet, tangy condiment for any grilled fish or meat. Seared tuna may not seem like a home cook’s fish, but ‘sushi-grade’ has become a common term in most markets, so be sure to ask your fishmonger. To avoid overcooking, keep the steak super cold until the last minute and get the pan smoking hot before grilling. I’m currently obsessed with my “Mousa N.30” spice blend from La Boîte à Epice, but cracked black pepper and fennel seeds are a solid alternative. Fregula Sarda, toasted durum wheat pasta, is similar to Israeli couscous, and with fragrant lemon and basil, it really brings the meal together.
Wash, dry and roast peppers directly on a high flame until thoroughly blackened on all sides (about 10 minutes). Add to a bowl and cover with foil or plastic film for 5 minutes to steam.
Use paper towels (and plastic gloves if available, since peppers will still be hot) to remove the blackened skin, as well as the core and seeds.
If using jarred roasted peppers, drain well and adjust seasonings to taste since they are often marinated with garlic and vinegar already.
Add peppers, garlic, vinegar and Pastis to blender and purée. Transfer to a small pot and cook over medium-low heat, whisking frequently to avoid boiling over or spattering, until reduced by 2/3 (15-20 minutes). It should be the consistency of a thin ketchup. Season to taste and cool to room temperature.
Bring chicken stock to a boil. Rinse fregula in cold water and add to stock; reduce heat and simmer until tender and almost all stock has been absorbed (about 20 minutes).
Add zucchini, lemon zest and Esplette. Season to taste with salt, cover, turn off heat, and hold warm until ready to serve. Stir in basil at the last minute.
Seared Ahi Tuna
Heat a grill pan over high heat and turn on the fan. Rinse cold steaks in cold water, pat dry, and season with 2T olive oil, salt and spices.
Once the pan is smoking hot, grill tuna until visibly cooked about ¼” through, approximately 1 minute on the first side, and slightly more on the second.
Using a sharp knife, slice ½” thick, against the grain of the fish. Finish with a pinch of fleur de sel and a generous spoon of red pepper coulis.
Entertaining Tip: Make the pepper coulis and fregola in advance, so all you have to do is reheat and grill the fish!