TRADITIONAL ENCEBOLLADO IS A RICH, BRAISED ONION SAUCE THAT FORMS A GOLDEN-BROWN COLOUR DURING ITS LONG, SLOW COOKING. IT IS OFTEN USED TO COOK SEAFOOD SUCH AS SAND CLAMS, AND CAN BE SLIGHTLY FIERY WHEN THE CHEF GIVES IT A GOOD HIT OF WHITE PEPPER. THE DOWNSIDE IS THAT WHEN TUNA IS COOKED IN ENCEBOLLADO THE FLESH CAN DRY OUT. ALTHOUGH I RESPECT THE CHEFS WHO COOK THIS DISH, IT DOES COME FROM ANOTHER ERA WHEN THE SPANISH ROUTINELY COOKED THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS OUT OF THEIR FISH. MANY OF THE YOUNGER SPANISH CHEFS NOW HAVE A LIGHTER TOUCH AND PREFER FISH ‘JUST COOKED’. I USE SALAD ONIONS AND INSTEAD OF CARAMELISING AND REDUCING THEM I COOK THEM UNTIL QUITE SOFT BUT NOT DEFEATED. THE TUNA IS LIGHTLY SEASONED WITH OREGANO AND GIVEN A LITTLE EL SCORCHO’ IN A HOT FRYING PAN AND THEN DRESSED WITH THE COLOURFUL, FLAVOURFUL SHERRY AND SAFFRON SAUCE.
Toast the saffron threads in a small dry frying pan over medium heat just until the threads begin to darken. Place in a mortar and pestle, add 2 tablespoons of the onion cooking liquid and pound until dissolved. Stir the saffron mixture into the onions and cook for another 3 minutes.
When the onion sauce is cooked, place the tuna in a bowl with the remaining oregano, sea salt flakes, a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and the remaining
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat and cook the tuna for 2 minutes on each side, seasoning both sides with sea salt as you go. Place in a large warm serving dish, pour the onion sauce over and serve hot.
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