Persian-Spiced Pacific Tuna with Green Olive Tapenade and White Butter Bean Purée


  • 3 tablespoons sumac
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 2 center-cut skinless sushi-grade tuna portions
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • Olive or safflower oil, as needed
  • Fennel salad, recipe follows
  • Olive tapenade, recipe follows
  • White butter bean purée, recipe follows


Combine spices. Season tuna with salt. Roll logs in spice mix, pressing to adhere spices to fish.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-high, add one tuna piece, and sear for 1 minute on each side, 4 minutes total. Repeat with second piece of tuna. To serve, cut tuna into 1⁄4-inch slices. Divide among four plates. Top with fennel salad, tapenade and smear of bean purée on side. Makes 4 servings.

To make the fennel salad: Shave 1 trimmed fennel bulb and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and pinch of kosher salt.

To make the olive tapenade: Stir together 75 grams pitted green olives, 60 milliliters olive oil, 1-1⁄2 tablespoons rinsed and coarsely chopped capers, 1 minced garlic clove, 1-1⁄2 teaspoon lemon zest and 2 teaspoons tequila. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.

To make white butter bean purée: Cover 2 cups of dried large white butter beans with cool water by 2 inches, cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain and rinse beans and transfer to a heavy 4-quart saucepan with 6 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce to medium, skimming away foam. Add 1⁄2 onion, 1⁄2 carrot, 1⁄2 rib celery, 1 bay leaf, 2 peeled and smashed garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and creamy inside, about 1-1⁄2 hours. Strain and purée, adding cooking water, if necessary. 

Chefs Gayle Pirie and John Clark, Foreign Cinema, San Francisco, CA, from Food Fanatics Magazine