Split style tuna by Ino Kuvačić from his cookbook "Dalmatia"

Split style tuna by Ino Kuvačić from his cookbook "Dalmatia"

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This is an edited extract from Dalmatia by Ino Kuvačić published by Hardie Grant Books RRP $50 and is available from The Essential Ingredient.

“This is my modern variation of a very old dish. The original recipe calls to cook the tuna in red wine for 45 minutes. I really love my tuna cooked rare, so I prepare the sauce separately and serve it with rare tuna and potato salad. Tuna is such a good match with red wine and onions, and that’s what makes this dish so delicious, “:  Ino Kuvačić.

Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean of the edge of the dazzling Adriatic is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets – the spectacular Dalmatian coastline of Croatia.  A region defines by the sea, rambling vineyards and olive groves, it is home to some of the country’s most treasured dishes with flavours are reminiscent of Greek and Italian food but with an identity all of their own.

At its heart, Dalmatian cuisine is frugal, honest and rustic, with distinctive flavours, including silverbeet, varenik (grape molasses) and prošek (Dalmatian fortified wine), that tell its unique story.

In his first book, Dalmatia,  Ino Kuvačić captures the charm of his beloved native home, and celebrates the food traditions, hospitality and signature purity of this magical place.

With chapters covering vegetables and salads, meat dishes, fish and seafood and sweets, Dalmatia reveals over 100 authentic recipes such as pašticada (slow-cooked beef cheeks), Brujet (Dalmatian fish stew) and Torta Malcarana (almond cake from Makarska).

Accompanied by stunning local photography of both this beautiful region and the culinary experiences and traditions it offers, Dalmatia will transport you to the sparkling coastline of Croatia from your own kitchen.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 kg tuna steaks
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 100 m extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500 ml good red wine
  • 50 ml Varenik or Vincotto
  • 50 g sultanas
  • 3 whole waxy potatoes, such as desiree, sebago or nicola
  • 1/2 onion, very thinly sliced
  • 100 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 30 ml white wine vinegar

Cut the tuna into 2–3 cm thick slices – you should get five to six slices.

For the sauce, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 10–15 minutes on low heat until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 5 seconds, then add the wine, varenik and sultanas and boil rapidly until the sauce thickens and has reduced by two-thirds.

For the potato salad, cook the potatoes in their skins in boiling salted water until soft. Leave them to cool for approximately 10 minutes. While still warm, peel the skins off and cut them into 1 cm thick slices. Add the spring onion, olive oil, white wine vinegar and season well.

Preheat a barbecue grill plate or chargrill pan to high.

Grill the tuna quickly on the barbecue, for 2 minutes on each side, just to get nice char marks on the outside of the fish, leaving it raw in the middle.

Serve the tuna on the potato salad and garnish with the red wine and onion sauce. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.

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