Tonno Sott'olio (Homemade Marinated Tuna in Olive Oil)

Prep Time: 3 Hours
Yields: 8 (8-ounce) Jars

I first discovered this recipe in the restaurant of my good friend Lidia Bastianich in New York City. She explained how fresh tuna steak can be converted to a magnificent canned tuna with ease preparation. So should you love tuna sandwiches or salad, this is a great way of making your own that it’s far superior to the store-bought product.

2 pounds (1-1/4-inch thick) tuna steaks
4 cups best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsps salt
black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
1 cup white vinegar
2 red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
16 cloves garlic, peeled
8 fresh bay leaves
8 small red cayenne peppers
1 tbsp red pepper flakes, divided

Lay tuna steaks flat in a large sauté pan. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt, pepper and granulated garlic to taste. Pour enough water to cover fish by 1/4 inch then add vinegar. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, shifting fish from time to time to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the liquid is boiling, partially cover the pan and reduce heat to simmer, maintaining a steady but gentle bubbling. Cook 15 minutes or until steaks are cooked through. Test by cutting into one steak to ensure the meat is thoroughly cooked. Transfer steaks to a wire rack with a wide spatula and pat dry using paper towels. Allow to dry thoroughly and cool approximately 1 hour, turning fish once after 30 minutes. Set aside. While fish is cooling, place sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, red onion slices, whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, and red cayenne peppers. Bring oil to 190°F and poach vegetables, stirring occasionally, until onions are wilted and seasonings beginning to impart flavor, 10–15 minutes. Do not heat above 190°F, otherwise, onions will overcook or fry. Pour oil and seasoning from the skillet into a glass bowl and allow to cool 30 minutes. When fish is dry, cut steaks into 1-inch cubes that will fit nicely into the jars. Using a pair of tongs, evenly distribute fish pieces, onion slices, 2 garlic cloves, 1 bay leaf, 1 cayenne pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes into each jar. Ladle an equal amount of olive oil into each jar, making sure to cover fish by 1/4 inch. Tap repeatedly on sides of jars to shake loose any air bubbles. Let containers sit 15 minutes for all bubbles rise to surface. Fill jars to 1/8 inch to the top with additional olive oil. Cover jars with lids, place in a large canning pot then cover jars with hot water by 3 inches. Bring to a low boil, cover and cook 45 minutes to cure. Remove from hot water, place upside down onto kitchen towels and allow to cool 12 hours. Place in refrigerator and allow to marinate 1 week prior to opening. It will hold up to one month. If you wish to jar this product and make it shelf-stable for the pantry, place sealed jars in a home-style pressure-cooker and cook 1 hour and 45 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure. Fish may be served over salad greens or used chopped along with mayonnaise, boiled eggs, and pickled radish to create the ultimate tuna sandwich.