Confit of Tuna with Onion Confit, Endive Salad, and Sauce Verte

This recipe is adapted from The Farallon Cookbook by Mark Franz and Lisa Weiss (Chronicle, 2001). The dish is a play on the concept of confit, which is traditionally meat or poultry cooked in its own fat. Here, tuna is cooked in olive oil, and the onion confit is slow-cooked in butter.


With its floral fruitiness, Viognier from Condrieu in France, or a domestic Viognier from California or Washington softens the crispness of tuna, lemon and vinegar here; recommended Condrieu producers include E. Guigal, Delas Frères and Les Vins de Vienne; recommended domestic producers include Alban from California’s Central Coast and Cayuse from Washington.

  • For the onion confit
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bay leaf 5 juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 3 large yellow onions, cut into 8 wedges
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • For the lemon vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • For the sauce verte
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, or drained vinegar-brined capers
  • 3 anchovy fillets, drained
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely cut fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon green peppercorns, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil Kosher salt
  • For the tuna confit
  • 2 tablespoons cardamom pods
  • 4 (5-ounce) tuna fillets, 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 to 4 cups olive oil
  • For the endive salad
  • 4 heads Belgian endive, cored and cut into thin diagonal slivers
  • 1/2 cup watercress leaves 1 tablespoon lemon vinaigrette (see above)

To make the onion confit: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, bay leaf, and juniper berries. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until soft, about 15 minutes. Add the wine, and salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes. Uncover and cook to reduce until syrupy, about 15 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

To make the lemon vinaigrette: Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to serve or refrigerate for up to 1 day.

To make the sauce verte: Purée the garlic, tarragon, thyme, capers, anchovies, chives, basil, parsley, pepper, green peppercorns, lemon juice, orange juice, and Champagne vinegar, scraping down the sides of the container once or twice. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil to make the sauce the consistency of thick mayonnaise. Add a little water if necessary to thin out. Season with salt. Transfer to another container or bowl, cover, and set aside. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

To make the tuna confit: In a small, dry pan, roast the cardamom pods over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Let cool. Remove the seeds from the pods and coarsely grind the seeds in a mortar. Sprinkle the tuna with salt and pepper to taste and the cardamom. Put the seasoned tuna into a medium saucepan and add olive oil to cover by at least 1/2 inch. Over high heat, bring the oil to 180 degrees F. Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the desired doneness. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tuna to a plate. Strain and reserve the oil for a later use.

To make the salad: toss the endive and watercress with the lemon vinaigrette.

To serve, place a pool of sauce verte on each of 4 serving plates. On each plate, place a tuna fillet on one side of the sauce and spoon one-fourth of the onions on the other side of the sauce. Place equal portions of salad on top of the tuna and onions so that it falls slightly to the side. Serve at once.

Note: If you wish, the tuna confit can be made 1 day ahead and refrigerated; bring it to room temperature before serving. The onion confit can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Toss the salad with the vinaigrette just before serving.

Published on December 18, 2009