Tuna Steaks alla Fiorentina

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Virtually all of the recipes in this book come from grill masters or grill cultures—part of a cannon, as it were, that includes the greatest grilled dishes in the world. So indulge me if I give you one dish that exists more in my imagination than in the real world of barbecue, but that captures the spirit of Italy’s great grilling region, Tuscany. Think of it as a seafood riff on classic bistecca alla fiorentina (see here for a recipe). While I’ve never seen this dish on a menu in Tuscany, theoretically, you could find it in the great Tuscan sea and fishing port Livorno. (The same Livorno where pan-fried fish comes dressed up with capers and olives; I’ve given you this sauce as a serving option here.) Grill the tuna hot. Eat it rare. And get ready for a fish steak that can give a beef T-bone a run for its money.

Ingredients

You’ll also Need

  • Oak or olive wood for building a fire, or about 2 cups unsoaked oak or olive wood chips or chunks (optional)

Method

Advance Preparation

None

  1. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to high. Ideally, you’ll grill over wood embers (see here for instructions on grilling over a wood fire).
  2. When ready to cook, if you are using a charcoal grill, toss the wood chips or chunks on the coals. If you are using a gas grill, add the wood chips or chunks to the smoker box or place them in a smoker pouch under the grate (see here). Brush and oil the grill grate. Lightly brush the tuna steaks on both sides with the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. (Lightly is the operative word here; too much oil and the fish will taste sooty.) Crust the fish with salt and cracked peppercorns, pressing them onto the fish.
  3. Arrange the fish steaks on the hot grate and grill them until darkly browned on the outside but still very rare inside, 2 to 3 minutes per side. When done, the tuna should feel quite soft when poked. If desired, give each steak a quarter turn on each side after 1½ minutes to create a handsome crosshatch of grill marks.
  4. Transfer the grilled fish steaks to a deep, attractive serving dish. If you are not using the Livornese Sauce, slowly pour the ½ cup of olive oil over them. Cut the tuna steaks crosswise into ¼-inch slices. Spoon all of the liquid that accumulates in the bottom of the dish over the sliced fish several times. Otherwise top it with the Livornese Sauce, if using. Serve the tuna at once, with the arugula salad on the side, if desired.