Albacore Tuna Loin and Creamy Polenta
By Chef Kevin Markey
I first discovered the beauty of albacore tuna mostly by accident. Most know it as the ‘Chicken of the Sea’ and only really use it out of a can, but the best part of the fish, after the belly, is the loin. Tuna, when cooked properly, is full of flavor.
When it comes to polenta, it is all about the corn. Corn and summer are practically synonyms that go hand-in-hand. While this recipe doesn’t use fresh corn, there are varieties of corn that make for better polenta than others. One such varietal is Otto File, Eight-Row Flint. Otto File is an heirloom varietal of corn that originally was grown in New England before any Europeans settled the North American continent. While the yields are much smaller than your typical yellow summer corn, Otto File produces such a sweet flavor and creamy consistency, you might want to try the recipe without any butter or cheese first.
Every bite of this dish will make your mouth water for more fish, more corn, and more Sonoma-Cutrer Founders Reserve Chardonnay.
Difficulty Level Medium
1 loin of albacore tuna
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
4 tablespoons kosher salt
4 cups water
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
In a medium sauce pot, begin to heat your water. Before the water boils, whisk in the dry polenta. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot, stirring every 5 minutes so the bottom does not burn.
The polenta will be cooked after about 30 minutes, however, the longer you leave it on the heat the thicker it will become. I prefer a soft polenta, with the consistency of porridge, but you may opt to cook it longer.
When you are 5-10 minutes from serving, whisk in the butter and cheese and stir to fully incorporate.
In a bowl, mix together the salt and paprika. Coat the tuna loin with the salt mixture.
In a sauté pan, add 2 tbsp. of olive oil. Heat at medium/high and just as the oil begins to smoke, add the tuna. The goal here is to sear each side, without cooking the fish all the way through. Tuna, like most fish, can be eaten raw or undercooked without a high risk of illness (not recommended if pregnant or breastfeeding).
Slice the tuna against the grain into ½ inch slices and serve over the top of the polenta.