- Freshly grated zest of 2 lemons
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 whole cloves
- 3 pounds fresh albacore tuna fillets, skin and dark blood spots removed Kosher or sea salt
- White vinegar
Procedures:After preserving our own tuna for the first time, we decided to do a side-by-side tasting of supermarket tuna and our home-cured version, and we were stunned at the difference. There was no comparison, and, honestly, the commercial canned tuna tasted like cat food! We’ve passed the point of no return and am now passionate about oil-poaching or canning our own tuna in season. This recipe includes instructions for two different processes. The first involves poaching the tuna in an herb-infused olive oil and then packing the tuna, covered in the oil, in jars and refrigerating it for up to 2 weeks. You could call this “tuna confit”—a moist, delectably flaky style accented with olive oil, herb, lemon, and garlic flavor notes. Though this tuna has a relatively short shelf life, the reward is the ease of processing, and it makes the perfect gift when in season. The second method, equally delicious, requires a pressure canner to preserve the tuna. The advantage here is the shelf life: The tuna keeps on the pantry shelf for up to a year, which is a real boon for gift giving. Your landlocked friends will be rewarded with a delicious gift to savor any time or place that fresh-caught tuna is not available. For canned tuna, you’ll only need to make one-fourth of the infused oil. Follow the directions in Step 2, using a medium saucepan, 1½ cups of olive oil, the zest of half a lemon, 1 smashed clove garlic, 1 large sprig thyme, ½ sprig rosemary, and 1 whole clove.
- Wash the jars, including the lids and screw bands, in hot, soapy water and dry thoroughly. Alternatively, run the jars through the regular cycle of your dishwasher; wash the lids and screw bands by hand. Sterilize the jars and lids. If canning the tuna, have ready a pressure canner and rack that fits the bottom of the canner.
- Pour the oil into a wide sauté or braising pan. Add the lemon zest, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and cloves. Set the pan over low heat and heat the oil mixture to 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Let the oil infuse for 15 minutes, adjusting the heat, if necessary, to maintain the temperature. Remove the oil from the heat and set aside.
- For oil-poached tuna, proceed as follows: Cut the tuna fillets crosswise into 2-inch-thick slices. Lightly sprinkle the tuna with salt and rub the salt into the flesh. Arrange the slices in the oil, nestling them together and making sure they are completely submerged. Return the pan to low heat and bring the temperature of the oil back to 160°F. Maintaining that temperature, poach the tuna until cooked through, it flakes easily with a fork, and white pockets of fat appear on the surface of the fish, about 30 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or fish spatula, transfer the tuna to a cutting board. Set the oil aside to cool. Pack the tuna into the prepared jars, trimming the fillets to fit. Use the trimmings to fill the gaps in the jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Using a wide-mouth funnel, ladle the oil over the tuna, making sure the tuna is completely covered with oil, leaving ½-inch headspace at the top. Remove any air bubbles by running a long wooden utensil, such as a chopstick or wooden skewer, between the jar and the tuna. Wipe the rims clean with a paper towel moistened with white vinegar. (This helps remove the oil from the rims.) Seal the jars and refrigerate.
- For canned tuna, proceed as follows: Cut the tuna fillets crosswise into 1½-inch-thick slices. Pack the raw tuna into the prepared jars, trimming the fillets to fit. Use the trimmings to fill the gaps in the jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Wipe the rims of the jars. Add ½ teaspoon of salt on top of the tuna in each jar. Using a wide-mouth funnel and filling one jar at a time, ladle the oil over the tuna, making sure the tuna is completely covered with oil, still leaving 1 inch headspace at the top. Remove any air bubbles by running a long wooden utensil, such as a chopstick or wooden skewer, between the jar and the tuna. Wipe the rims clean with a paper towel moistened with white vinegar. (This helps remove the oil from the rims.) Seal according to the manufacturer's directions. Process the jars in a pressure canner at 10 pounds of pressure for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the pressure to drop to zero. Remove the gauge and then the top of the canner, tilting the lid away from you in case there is steam. Using a canning jar lifter, transfer the jars to a cooling rack, and allow the jars to rest until completely cool. Check the seals. It will be necessary to clean the jars before storing. Remove the screw bands and wash the jars and rims, taking care to protect the seals. Replace the screw bands and label.
Storing: For the oil-poached tuna, refrigerate the jars for up to 2 weeks. For the canned tuna, store the jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.