Calabrian chile oil is everywhere right now, enjoying a deserved vogue on American bistro menus and in our kitchens. The brand Tutto Calabria make around 60 different products, from simple dried chiles to complex spreads and sauces, jars of ’nduja, and peppers stuffed with Quartirolo cheese. The family-owned, multigenerational brand is based in the commune of Marcellinara, just outside the city of Catanzaro, in a narrow strip of Calabrian land bordered by the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas.
For this recipe, we’re using Tutto Calabria’s chile and minced vegetable spread Miscela Esplosiva to make a spicy tuna loin appetizer.
- Purchase whole sushi-grade tuna loin, roughly one pound, from the freshest possible fish purveyor you can find. It should be good enough to eat raw, though we intend to cook it.
- In a small bowl, mix together freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt. As a Portland, Oregon, resident I am obligated here to mention Jacobsen's sea salt, our municipal food salt of choice, but Maldon flakes from Wales work beautifully as well. Three big pinches and 20 cracks from the mill should do it.
- Coat the outside edge of the loin in your salt-and-pepper mixture, leaving each interior flank of the fish unadorned.
- Heat olive oil.
- Sear the fish. Watch for the color to change just a bit, and notice how your nostrils flare. Flip the fish around two minutes, searing again on the other side, and top the cooked fish with a tablespoon of Calabrian chile condiment. Allow it to soak in and fuse a bit with the olive oil.
- Don't overcook the fish. You should, in fact, feel like you are perhaps undercooking the fish, which I assure you, you are not. Pull the fish off the pan, leaving behind the yummy spicy cooking oil.
- Add another teaspoon of Calabrian condiment to the oil in the pan, and cook it down for another couple minutes while the loin rests.
- Slice the loin into chunks, top with the cooked-down oil and chiles, and spear each chunk with a toothpick. Serve with sliced baguette.
Jordan Michelman is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and author based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, T Magazine, Portland Monthly, Eater, Noble Rot, and Sprudge, the international coffee and wine publication he co-founded in 2009. His debut book, The New Rules of Coffee was released in 2018 with Ten Speed Press. jordanmichelman.com