Tuna “alla Napoletana” with Osetra Caviar

This recipe, courtesy of Chef Chris Manning of Etoile at Domaine Chandon in Yountville, California, served as the starter for an elegant springtime dinner prepared by the chefs of a handful of upscale winery-based restaurants in California. This sushi-style starter calls for the freshest grade A-Ahi tuna possible as well as an ounce of caviar.


The elegant but upfront flavors of this dish call for a wine that is both delicate and assertive, like a Sangiovese-based rosé; recommended producers include Solo Rosa and Iron Horse from California, Barnard Griffin from Washington, and Castello di Ama from Italy.

  • 4 ounces tuna, (grade-A Ahi), diced small
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • White pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces Roma tomato, peeled, seeded, and diced small
  • 1/4 cup zucchini, rinsed and diced very small
  • For the lemon cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • For assembly
  • 1 ounce Osetra caviar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest, dried
  • Crisp crackers, for serving
  • Chives, for garnish

Combine the tuna, chives, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a stainless steel bowl and mix well.

Combine the tomato, 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a stainless steel bowl and mix well.

Combine the zucchini, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl and mix well.

To make the lemon cream: In a stainless steel bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff, fold in the lemon juice, and season with salt.

To assemble: In a 5-inch circular mold, make a bottom layer, using half of the tomato salad, top with half of the zucchini salad, and finally half of the tuna tartare. Remove the ring mold, dollop with lemon cream, and top with caviar. Make another “napoleon” in the same way. Sprinkle the plates with lemon zest and garnish them with whole chives, if desired. Serve at once with thin crisp crackers.

Published on December 17, 2009