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
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!
Serrano Ham-Wrapped Tuna Muffulettas
- 2 tsp lemon zest (from one large or two small lemons)
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- 1-1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 6 fresh tuna steaks 1/4 - 1/3 lb each
- 6 pieces Serrano ham or prosciutto
- 6 chewy sandwich rolls
- 6 slices Provolone cheese
- 3 cups olive salad
- 2 handfuls arugula
- Finely chop the zest, garlic, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes together with an ulu and bowl, or a sharp knife and cutting board. Combine with olive oil and mix well.
- Roll each tuna steak in marinade to coat well. Wrap each steak in a piece of Serrano ham, and then in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour, and up to six hours.
- Toast sliced sandwich rolls, melting a piece of Provolone cheese on half of each roll.
- In a hot frying pan, sear the tuna steaks about 2 minutes per side to crisp the ham and give the fish a nice sear, leaving rare to raw in the middle.
- Heap as much olive salad on the bottom of each roll as you can, drizzling oil from the salad to soak the bread. Place fish on the roll and top with more salad and with arugula. Add top of roll and get plenty of napkins!