Serrano Ham-Wrapped Tuna Muffulettas

This lunch aboard 50-foot trimaran Firefly in late October en route to San Diego from Newport Beach was an outrageously good riff on a Susan Spicer recipe, itself a twist on the traditional Italian sandwich created in New Orleans.  When you are cruising down the California coast toward the start of the Baja Ha-Ha rally, a big chunk of tuna and some jamón serrano is in order.  But don’t limit yourself…find a good fishmonger and try this.  You can read it while reviewing Captain Peter’s trip report from the 24th annual Ha-Ha, for coastal cruising atmospherics.  You won’t regret it!

The primary thing you need to know about a muffuletta is that there is simply no such thing as too much olive salad.  Heap it on there any way you can.  Hollow out the bread a bit and fill the void with olive salad.  Drizzle additional olive oil from the jar of salad onto the bread until it won’t soak any more up.  It’s like paper towels…no such thing as too many.

Serrano-Ham Wrapped Tuna Muffalettas

For a print friendly recipe see below

Ingredients for 6 sandwiches:
Zest from one large or two small lemons
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1-1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil

6 fresh tuna steaks, about 1/4 – 1/3 pound each
6 slices Serrano ham or prosciutto
6 chewy sandwich rolls
6 slices Provolone cheese
3 cups olive salad
2 handfuls arugula

The fish needs to marinate a bit, so as soon as breakfast was cleaned up I got it ready and into the icebox.  Knowing I would be making these in a bachelor’s galley, I brought a few key ingredients and implements along.  To make the marinade, an ulu and bowl come in really handy, allowing you to finely chop the zest, garlic, and seeds/flakes together before mixing in the olive oil.

If your fish steaks — like mine — are twice the size of the sandwich rolls and a remotely human-sized serving, cut them in half.  Aren’t these beautiful, though?  You want REALLY fresh tuna — sometimes called sushi- or sashimi-grade.  This was day-1 of the sail and the only day Pirate Kristin had aboard, so we had to buy the fish.  After a stop in Turtle Bay, Firefly headed up and out to Guadalupe Island — also known as “Tuna Alley” for the prolific fishing.  Sooooooo sad to miss that.  Some poke salad would have been in order.

Add the olive oil to the seasonings right in the ulu bowl and roll each tuna steak generously to coat.

Wrap each tuna steak in a slice of serrano ham or prosciutto.  Then wrap well in plastic wrap and chill in the icebox for at least an hour, and up to 6 hours.

As lunch time approaches, slice the rolls and warm them, melting a piece of provolone cheese on half of each roll.  Sear the tuna steaks for about 2-3 minutes per side just until the ham is crispy on the edges and there is a good sear on the fish.  With fish like this, raw in the middle is ideal.  Spoon as much olive salad as you can on the bottom of the roll, place the fish on it, then top with more olive salad.  We used a good New Orleans brand of pre-made olive salad today, but you can make your own as well.

Top with some arugula and serve to a happy crew!


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