Pistachio-crusted tuna with tropical salsa

Yet another delicious Ottolenghi recipe. This is now my favorite way to eat tuna – the crust is time intensive but so worth it. Adapted from this Ottolenghi recipe.


  • 1 kg raw tuna
  • 2 T olive oil
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 150 g shelled, toasted pistachios
  • 5 T dijon mustard
  • 1-2 small persian cucumbers (or half an English cucumber), seeds removed and cut into a 1cm dice
  • 1 large ripe papaya, cut into a 1cm dice
  • 1 large ripe mango, cut into a 1cm dice
  • 2 small red chillies, seeds and pith removed, finely chopped
  • 2 t grated ginger
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  • zest and juice of 2 limes
  • 2 T Thai fish sauce
  • 3-4 T olive oil
  • 2 T sugar


For the tuna

  1. Heat a large grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. (You can also do this on a grill.)
  2. Cut the tuna into 2-3 equal-size pieces. (There are natural divisions of the fish you can use as a guide.)
  3. Brush each piece of tuna all over with the olive oil, then season with a couple grinds each of salt and pepper.
  4. Add the tuna pieces to the hot pan and quickly sear on each side, for no more than 3 or 4 minutes total. The tuna should be slightly raw in the center and just cooked on the edges (with about a ½-inch margin).
  5. Transfer the tuna pieces to a plate and refrigerate until well-chilled, about 30 minutes.

For the papaya salsa

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cucumber, papaya, mango, red chili, ginger, red onion, lime zest and juice, fish sauce, olive oil, and sugar.
  2. Toss everything to combine, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the pistachio crust

  1. Using a food processor, pulse-grind the pistachios into fine crumbs, being careful not to turn them completely into a paste.
  2. Mix the pistachios with the lemon zest and spread out on a large plate or sheet pan.
  3. Place 2-3 pieces of large plastic wrap on your work surface. (Use one piece for each tuna piece).
  4. Put a piece of the chilled, seared tuna in the center of each piece of plastic wrap. Coat the exposed sides of the tuna pieces with olive oil, then brush generously with mustard.
  5. Place the oiled & mustarded side of each tuna piece down onto the pistachio-lemon zest coating. Coat the top side of the tuna pieces with olive oil and mustard, and then roll the tuna in the pistachio coating, so that it’s fully covered in nut mix.
  6. Return the coated tuna pieces to their plastic wrap, roll the plastic wrap up tightly around each piece of fish, and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. (If you are in a rush you can skip this step, but your crust won’t adhere as tightly.)
  7. To serve, slice the chilled tuna into ½-3/4-inch thick slices, then top with papaya salsa.

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