Sometimes, I remember a dish from childhood and wonder if I could make it better. This dish is one of those, and yes, I really did make it better. It’s totally retro, and I’m totally cool with that…
Mum was the queen of the diet pamphlet, and her favourite was for a “High Fibre Diet” – roughly photocopied onto a mint green coloured paper and stapled together like some sort of make-do-and-mend craft project. Most the recipes passed me by, I don’t remember them at all – memorably unmemorable, you could say. But there was one recipe that really shouldn’t have worked, but it did, and it is the only recipe I remember from that pamphlet.
The basic flavour profile here is thus: tuna, peppers, scallions and pastry. It doesn’t sound the best does it? But trust me, it’s actually tasty AF! I don’t quite know where the ‘High Fibre’ element comes into this dish, but then again, this isn’t what I, personally, am looking for. Serve it up with an aul slice of brown bread if you really must – no-one’s judging you!
I had all but forgotten about this dish too, and then, one day, for no discernable reason, I remembered it as clear as a bell, and ever since I’ve been procrastinating about trying it out. I had a sneaking suspicion I could make it taste even better, and an even sneakier one that this would probably be a really simple mid-week supper that tasted like you spent far longer working on it than it does.
Think of it like a giant tuna sausage roll. The trickiest thing about it is the braiding, but when have I ever asked you to tie yourself in knots about how something looks? Remind yourself what the name of this blog is, then get over yourself and crack on!
Another absolutely great thing about this is that there is no cooking involved – except to bake the thing in the oven. If you can get your hands on some quality roasted red peppers in olive oil, this even saves you the job of blistering a long sweet red pepper on the gas ring of your hob. I insist you use ready made puff pastry for this recipe – another shortcut!
All this aside, the quality of the main ingredient is key. Back in the day, Mum used cheap tinned tuna – and of course if this is what is in your budget, then go for it. But in Ireland we are lucky to have the Shine Family who create a beautiful ready to eat product with their Wild Irish Tuna range. Chunky loins of silky tuna, preserved in olive oil and presented in glass jars, it is a far superior product to the tinned, super flaky, budget tinned variety. Early this year, the Irish Food Writers Guild bestowed its product award to the Shine family – so it comes highly rated by those in the know!
To give the dish some extra pep, I used Shine’s Wild Irish Tuna in Chilli Oil. It was the perfect choice! I served it up with a garden leaf salad, and it works really well with a Broad Bean Hummus I made (get the recipe here!)
Ingredients (serves two as a dinner, or four for a light lunch):
- 2 x jars of Shine’s Wild Irish Tuna in Chilli Oil
- 1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
- 2 long sweet red peppers / ready roasted peppers in olive oil
- 3 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced on the round
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and grated
- Zest of a lemon, juice of half
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 egg yolk, mixed
- 1 tsp Nigella seeds
- Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- If you are blistering your own peppers, do this now. When fully blistered, place into a plastic bag and allow to sweat for 2 -3 minutes. Remove from the bag, and using the flat side of a pairing knife blade, scrape off the scorched skin, remove the pepper stem, cut open and remove the pith and seeds. Cut the pepper halves in half again, then slice into small rectangles. Add to a mixing bowl.
- Remove the tuna loins from the chilli oil. Break down a little into smaller pieces and add to the pepper.
- Slice the scallions and add to the tuna and pepper along with the lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt, a generous few grinds of the pepper mill, and a little of the chilli oil from the jar.
- Very gently, so as not to break down the tuna too much, mix everything together. Set aside.
- Roll out your sheet of puff pastry. Cut into two equal pieces along the short side to create two just-about-square pieces.
- Into the middle of each place an equal amount of the tuna filling. Pile it high rather than wide to give the plait some height…exciting!
- Using a non-serrated knife, to the left and right of the filling, cut a diagonal line from the bottom to the top. Don’t stress too much if the lines either side don’t line up perfectly!
- You should be left with a odd shaped piece of pastry at the top and bottom of the filling. Fold these onto the filling first, then working from the bottom, pull across the pastry ribbon from the left and over onto the top of the filling, followed by the right pastry ribbon, all the way to the top.
- Brush the pastry all over with the egg wash, the scatter all over with the Nigella seeds.
- Place in the oven and bake until the pastry is cooked, puffed up and golden brown.
A light pale ale goes really well with this. Enjoy…