This versatile dish, quick, and healthy dish is something we serve year-round with various seasonal dressings and sides. It can be made on a griddle or in a nonstick pan, but a grill pan is recommended, to impart more flavor. It goes beautifully served with a mixed green salad or asparagus dressed with lemon and extra-virgin olive oil. I first tried this dish while filming near Palermo, and was very happy to see it on the menu at Felidia. Chef Nicotra knew the dish from back home, and it is a guest favorite.
“Palermitana” means that the meat or fish is marinated in a mixture of olive oil and fresh herbs. You then bread it on one side with breadcrumbs and cheese, but without using egg. The tuna palermitana is breaded and cooked on only one side. I don’t like my tuna cooked thoroughly on both sides and find that Americans typically do not, either. This is the perfect solution.
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
- Kosher salt
- Four 4-to-5-ounce yellowfin tuna steaks, about 1 inch thick
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing fish
- Caponata (page 183) or lightly dressed mixed greens, for serving
Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
Combine the panko, parsley, and chives in a shallow bowl, and season lightly with salt. Brush the tuna all over with olive oil. Press one side of each tuna steak into the panko, coating it with crumbs.
Place the tuna, panko side down, on the grill pan, and cook until the crumbs are browned and crisp but the tuna is still raw on top, about 2 minutes. Remove from the grill, season the raw side lightly with sea salt, and serve, raw side up, with the mixed greens or caponata.