Catch of the Day …fiiish!

Good Evening Dear Readers,

My mother tells a fabulous story of one of her many adventurous business trips through Southern Africa staying in very mediocre, NGO assigned hotels with meagre menus and bare bedrooms where during the day as one is attending meetings in the area, one’s room is rented out to a “day guest” until arrival back at the residence. It does of course frequently occur that on your arrival back at the hotel at the end of the day, the “day-time” tenants are neither ready nor willing to leave your room yet, or that the cleaning service is still on their 4hr lunch break and have not attended to the occupied room. As my mother reiterates: “darling…this is Africa!”

Well, on one of these particular trips, my dearest marm found herself dining alone one night in the hotel restaurant. Being a non red-meat eater, much to her advantage as the origin of african red meat can be questionable, she noticed the specials board with the caption “Catch of the Day,” displayed. Curious to the sort of catch my mother asked the slouching, overweight and mostly disinterested waitress: “Excuse me Sister, but what is the catch of the day?” The “sister” looked back at my mother in amazement as if to telepathically say “are you stupid? Did you not see the board?” and answered in a mixture of agitation and exclamation “eish madame it’s …FIIISH!!!”

So, tonight’s recipe is our Catch of the Day, or rather Seared Tuna on a bed of Couscous and Warm Mixed Bean Salad. This is a wonderful summer recipe that can be served as an early evening “Vorspeise” or as a light meal to be washed down with a fabulous glass of either white or red….so versatile is the dish.

The first time I ever made Seared Tuna in Hamburg was for a dinner party hosted by my fresh squeeze (new boyfriend) at the time, and  I had naively offered to cater for a group of aged 35+ aristocratic couples who I had never met before.  Adding insult to injury, I had not yet mastered the german language and so awkwardly stumbled my way through introductions only to quickly disappear and hide amongst the tuna steaks and smoke in the kitchen. I obviously wanted to deeply impress and had planned tuna with a risotto, and goats cheese salad- a very questionable combination. I was however young and overly gutsy or foolish to say the least and consulted none of the available cookbooks but concocted my own potion of unique flavours. This is how it went…

Risotto was tasty, but not extra-ordinary and the salad was far too large, accompanied by three baguette which no one touched. The tuna, was seared so slightly that not only the inside but the edges were still raw. Fried without any garlic, ginger or spices, I had imagined it a genius idea to create a herb paste using an array of fresh herbs, of which I had absolutely no idea as the labels were all in german. I enthusiastically mortared and pestled the greens until dead and greasy and after laying the “still flapping” seared fish on a serving platter I covered it with the cold greasy green algea-like paste and served with great anticipation.

I will not continue this story for obvious reasons of self-pride, but I will say, it took a long time before I trusted myself to do another seared tuna. Today’s recipe is however safe and fully reliable as it is simple delicious and I’ve full proofed it, (nothing can go wrong).  It combines an array of lovely summer tastes but is substantial enough to fill the gap. When it comes to beans, I try to get mine at the local Turkish grocer and it doesn’t matter which ones you choose. I love a Kidney, Cannellini, Borlotti Bean and Chickpea (Kichererbsen) combi. You can also add lentils or corn if you wish. I serve the seared tuna on a bed of couscous which is covered in the warm bean salad. I love the tuna really raw. A couple of seconds on each side in a very hot pan just to get some colour is my kind of style. You may of course cook it all the way through but I suggest trying it my way…I’m pretty sure, you won’t regret it! Some types of tuna are not very pink, rather a little pale in colour and may not have the aesthetic look but still taste delisHH.

Drain the beans together in a sieve rinsing with water to rid them of their canned juices. In a pan fry the ginger and chilli until sizzling. Add the beans and turn the heat off giving the beans time to warm for about 10mins. Chop baby tomatoes and thinly slice red onion rings into a bowl and then add the warm bean mixture. Coarsely chop a bunch of mint, basil, coriander, italian flat-leaf and regular parsley and add to the bean mixture folding in the olive oil, lemon juice and season to taste. Add the couscous grain to a separate pan on low heat and gently fry in olive until the grains begin to turn golden. Add tepid water to the couscous just covering the grain and simmer until couscous is fluffy. Add a teaspoon of butter and salt to taste and remove from heat.  Heat a frying pan with olive oil until very hot.  As tuna cooks extremely quickly, sear the steaks in the pan for about 30seconds per side adding a couple of drops of soya sauce. Spoon portions of couscous onto your plate and top with a helping of the warm bean salad. Lastly place the tuna steaks on top of the bean salad and pour the soya juice from the pan over the fish. Finish with a dab of wasabi.  All you need now is a cooled white or red wine (as tuna is a very meaty fish, red wine is just as ideal as white). I enjoy the Corallo Nero Sangiovese di Romagna which you can easily order at HAWESKO  and is a suitable red accompaniment to the dish.

TIP: from one of the Master’s at HAWESKO: On a hot summer’s day be sure to chill your choice of red wine. Italian wines are an excellent option here.


(4 portions)

4oo grams assorted beans

1 thumb-sized stem fresh ginger (peeled)

1 small chilli (finely chopped)

handful sweet cherry tomatoes

1 red onion (skinned and in finely sliced)

10 tbsp best Olive oil (for beans)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 cup couscous

270ml tepid water

1 tsp butter

4 tuna steaks

big handful of coarsely chopped mint, basil,

coriander, flatleaf and regular parsley

soya sauce

7 Responses to “Catch of the Day …fiiish!”
    • Jessica Nupen says:

      Thanks Melissa. I love my new Nikon although I’m still tryin to figger out how the hell she works. I love your student take on restaurants and recipes. Looking forward to reading what comes up next! Love, Jess

  1. Nikolas says:

    this catch of the day is indeed delicious! great recipie and the food is very light and tasty.

  2. Cameron Staude says:

    Wow looks great! Definitely putting this on the “wish list” when you back in SA in December.

  3. Lili Nupen says:

    Wow…what a fabulous summer dish…is it best served hot or cold??

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