Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Splendid Table: I am never cooking tuna again

Listen, I know tuna is expensive. I know it should be expensive. But who are the people I live and walk among who are buying ahi at $24.99/lb?

Ordinarily, Whole Foods has a cheaper tuna option. I tried this once and the fishmonger warned me it was not to be "seared" but cooked all the way through. I hate to think why, but that was the plan, so no problem. That was the plan again yesterday, except when I got to the fish counter there was only the fancy "searing-grade" ahi. Rather than change the menu (uh, rigid?) I bought it. From the moment I was handed that tiny piece of fish wrapped in brown paper, I felt like a sucker.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper's recipe for tuna Adriatic style is fine, a basic formula for a quick saute of fish with tomatoes, onions, and olives. The tuna, however, was awful, fishy in the bad way. A friend told me I could have soaked it in rice vinegar to take care of this problem, but should you really have to doctor such expensive seafood? It would be interesting to return to Whole Foods today and see if I could get my money back. But what if there's a scene, or even just an embarrassing exchange, and I can never shop there again?  

Here's the happy news. I also made Kasper's oven-roasted radicchio, for which I had the lowest of expectations. (I'm scraping the barrel, as we're coming to the end of the vegetable recipes in The Splendid Table.) You toss radicchio with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roast for an hour, which magically turns a tough, bitter, and crimson vegetable into a crispy golden delicacy. The outer leaves acquire the papery texture of a wasp's nest while the cores become meltingly soft and the flavor is that of a fried artichoke. It was quite incredible and almost made up for the tuna fiasco.


  1. Gotta agree about tuna. I've mostly given it up.

    At what oven temperature did you roast the radicchio?


  2. You start the radicchio at 450 for 20 minutes, then reduce temp to 350 and cook for another hour. You are supposed to cover it until the last ten minutes, but I forgot and it was still great. Craving it today which is rarely the case with a vegetable.

  3. Great - thanks! I can't wait to make this.

  4. ok, i have a bag of radicchio in the fridge right now, can i have the exact details of that recipe (how much oil, salt, etc?) i shall make it tonight. i've heard lynne on the radio many a time and she just doesn't seem like she'd mind!

  5. Okay!

    Here goes, a paraphrased recipe:

    Preheat oven to 450. Cut your radicchio (she specifies large heads) into quarters vertically as you would an apple, making sure you leave the core so the leaves all stay attached to a bit of core.

    Put some olive oil in the bottom of a roasting pan, place the radicchio on the oil, cut side down, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with more olive oil. I think I was rather generous with the olive oil, as is my wont.

    She says to cover the radicchio with foil, though I forgot. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn heat to 350 and roast for an hour more. Then take off the foil, turn the pieces over, and roast 10 more minutes. I didn't do this last part either because I was pressed for time.

    I hope this works as well for you as it did for me!

  6. We once took back a $98 standing rib roast to Whole Foods and plopped the bleeding wax paper wrapped bundle on the returns counter. No scene ensued.

    For more thoughts on Whole Foods see:

  7. Good post and this fill someone in on helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you on your information.

  8. Opulently I acquiesce in but I think the brief should secure more info then it has.