Pan-Seared Bonito on Green Lentils


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • for


    as a one-dish meal

Appears in

New Wave Asian: A Guide to the Southeast Asian Food Revolution

New Wave Asian

By Sri Owen

Published 2002

  • About

Here thetuna is ‘twice-cooked’in order to infuse it with the flavours that it is to carry to the table. The first time, it is ‘cooked’ without fire but with vinegar and spices; the second time it is seared to lightly char it and warm it ready for serving on its bed of lentils. In this way you will avoid leaving it raw on the inside, but you will not be in danger of overcooking it.


  • 4 tuna steaks, each about 175 g/ 6 oz
  • 175–225 g/ 6–8 oz green lentils
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp groundnut or sunflower oil
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped ginger root
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4–6 ripe tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley or fried sprigs, to garnish


Make the marinade by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl and marinate the tuna steaks in it for about 30 minutes.

Rinse the lentils in 2 changes of water, then drain them. Put them in a pan with 1.6 litres/ 3 pints of water. Bring to the boil and cook the lentils, keeping the water just bubbling, for 15 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and continue boiling for another 5 minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and stir-fry the shallots, garlic and ginger for 1-2 minutes. Add the spices and salt to taste, stir everything around and add the drained lentils. Cover the wok or pan for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, stir again and taste. Add more salt and cayenne pepper as required, and continue cooking for 2 minutes more. Set aside.

When ready to serve, heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan or rub it into a ridged griddle pan. When the pan is hot, place the tuna steaks on it side by side and sear them on each side for 1 minute, turning them over once. Cook them for 1 more minute, then turn off the heat.

Heat the lentils for about 3 minutes so that they are really hot. Divide them among 4 plates and place a tuna steak on top of each helping. Sprinkle chopped parsley over all and serve straight away.

For the Marinade

  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander