Risotto with tuna

The heat retained in risotto makes it a natural for cooking fish without effort, while retaining any of the juice of the fish that might run free. Tuna is an excellent partner, chunky and bitey and aggressive, particularly when kept undercooked.

Tuna is a delicious fish, at its best when it’s just seared in a hot pan, turned and served, often with no more than lemon juice or lime juice. Sometimes you’ll have a touch of fried garlic and ginger, softened with soy. Sometimes, you’ll have a pile of very sweet, naturally sweet, slow-baked tomatoes. For me, equally delicious is raw tuna, added to risotto and kicked along with all the above, in one pot. There’s a bonus here. For most of the year, the tuna is very expensive, but when you add tuna to risotto, you won’t need so much to make a great feed. And the rice does not intrude on that lovely flavour and texture of tuna.

Risotto should be cooked ‘al dente’ as pasta should be cooked ‘al dente’. The translation, in this case, is right on the money. The tooth should meet the slightest of resistance, but no big bite; no crunch is needed to get through it. Slice across the grain, and you’ll see one colour, with no sign of a chalky, flashy white centre. Once you’ve achieved that texture, you’ll do it every time. This is not like my golf swing.

1 onion, peeled and chopped

roughly 1 clove garlic, peeled and

chopped roughly

olive oil

400 g (21/2 cups) Arborio rice

zest of 2 limes

1 chilli, chopped finely

vegetable stock or water

1 red (or green) capsicum, deseeded and sliced into reasonably thin strips


handful of chopped chives

juice of 2 limes

200 g best tuna, chopped into not-so-tiny cubes If you can afford more, go for more.

black pepper


Cook the onion and garlic gently in the olive oil, allowing them to glisten rather than fry. Keep stirring gently for a few minutes, until the onion softens.


Toss in the rice and stir it around on a low heat for a couple of minutes to allow each grain to be touched by the oil.


Add the lime zest, chilli and a ladle of boiling stock, stirring through the rice until the stock has been absorbed. After 3 or 4 ladles of stock, add the sliced capsicum. Don’t cook it. (I’m usually into roasted and skinned peppers to enhance their flavour. In this case, we’re after the crunch, and that individual freshness that just-warm capsicum brings to a dish.) Add 1 or 2 more ladles of stock, stirring again until the rice has absorbed the stock.


When the risotto is cooked, remove it from the heat, taste to test (add salt if necessary), and add the chives and lime juice, stirring all through, and finally the raw tuna, mixing through gently. You’ll notice the deep red colour changes immediately to browny-pink. The inside, however, will remain pretty much uncooked. That’s the way tuna should be ‘cooked’ – rare.


Serve, with lots of black pepper. This dish does not need cheese, but you might like to add a flavoured olive oil, or a few dabs of butter.
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