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One of the World’s Most Innovative Seafood Chefs Shows How to Cook Tuna Like Steak

Josh Niland shares a recipe from his new cookbook 'Take One Fish'.

tuna ribeye with bordelais and fish fat yorkshire pudding Photo: courtesy Rob Palmer

Thousands of miles away from Paris, New York, Tokyo, London, Copenhagen and all manner of global culinary capitals, Aussie chef Josh Niland has nevertheless made a name for himself on the world gastronomic stage. Inside Saint Peter, his 34-seat seafood restaurant in Sydney, the independent chef and restaurateur turned a business imperative to cut waste into an innovative style of cooking. He transformed fish eyeballs into crackers, bones turned into powders that flavored stocks and fish oil became the base for caramels. And he started experimenting with his cooking too, dry aging fish like you would beef, using his heat lamp to slowly cook proteins and more. With the help of Instagram, he was able to share his new gospel of fish cookery to chefs around the world.

He detailed his methods in his first tome, The Whole Fish Cookbook, and now he’s back for more, with his new book Take One Fish. In this collection, he presents 60 recipes based around 15 different types of fish, grouping them by size. Niland, knowing Robb Report readers sure do love their steak, shares a recipe from Take One Fish where he shows how to treat a big old tuna steak like beef.

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We all put thought into buying a regular beef steak, considering whether the animal followed a grain- or grass-fed diet, or if the cut came from the rib or fillet, and I believe we should do the same with tuna. And as this is an elaborate cut (ask your fishmonger to do this for you) you’ll want to be very particular about both its quality and provenance, so be sure to ask whether it has been ethically caught and handled, too. While you’re there, ask for any trimmings, bones or scraps of tuna to go into the bordelaise sauce.

As with any bone-in cut of tuna, it is imperative that it rests after coming off the heat.The warmth and heat transfer generated post-cooking give it the desired delicate texture. Cooking it over too high a heat for too long on each side will deliver a dry, even slightly powdery finish, with a raw band of cold tuna in the centre where the heat hasn’t had the opportunity to penetrate. Be confident, and think of it as the beef you know and love to cook. This is a show-stopping piece of fish and will win over even the most hard-nosed carnivorous critics.

Tuna Ribeye with Bordelaise and Fish Fat Yorkshire Puddings

Take One Fish Cookbook cover

Photo: courtesy Hardie Grant

Serves 2 to 3

  • 1 lb. 3 oz. yellowfin tuna steak, bone in
  • 2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 1.75 oz. ghee, melted
  • sea salt flakes

Fish fat Yorkshire puddings

  • 9 oz. eggs
  • 250 g. plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 0.5 tsp. fine salt
  • 1 c. full-cream (whole) milk
  • 1 c. rendered fish fat or ghee

Bordelaise sauce

  • 5.5 oz. ghee
  • 4.75 lb. tuna bones and trimmings
  • 10 French shallots, finely sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 10 oz. red wine
  • 7 oz. red wine vinegar
  • 12 thyme sprigs
  • 2.5 oz. dark soy sauce
  • 20.5 oz. brown fish stock
  • 1 small tomato, peeled, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
  • 50 g (13/4 oz) yellowfin tuna bone marrow (optional)

For the Yorkshire puddings, place the eggs, flour and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine, pouring in the milk as you go to form a smooth batter. Finish with a handheld blender and pass through a fine sieve, then transfer to the fridge and leave to rest for at least 24 hours (up to 72 hours).

To make the bordelaise, heat the ghee in a frying pan over a medium-high heat to a light haze. Add the fish bones and trimmings and cook for 20 minutes, scraping up any sediment that settles at the base of the pan as it forms, until very well browned all over. Transfer to a colander set over a bowl and allow any fat to drain, reserving it for later. Return the solids to the pan, along with the shallot and garlic, and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until lightly colored. Add the wine, vinegar and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cook, stirring, for 20 minutes, or until reduced and thickened to a glaze-like consistency. Add the soy sauce and stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook very gently, turning the fish pieces occasionally, for another 20 minutes, or until reduced and thickened. Strain into a bowl, pass the warm reserved fat through a fine sieve, then pour over the sauce. Set aside.

When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 410°F. Remove the tuna from the fridge and stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

To cook the Yorkshire puddings, add a tablespoon of rendered fish fat or ghee to each hole of a 12-hole muffin tray and place in the hot oven for 10–12 minutes to heat the oil to a haze. Carefully remove the tray from the oven and pour the batter evenly into the holes to fill them halfway. Cook for 25 minutes, until puffed and golden.

Meanwhile, either preheat a grill pan over a high heat or a charcoal grill with evenly burnt-down embers.

Mix together the black pepper and ground fennel seeds in a bowl. Lightly brush the ghee over both sides of the steak (this will aid with heat conduction and minimize the risk of scorching the dry spices), then season liberally with salt flakes and sprinkle the fennel and pepper mix over to cover evenly.

Carefully place the tuna on the grill and cook for a total of 4 minutes, turning every minute. Remove and leave to rest for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the internal temperature measures between 111°F and 115°F, depending on how rare you like it.

When you are ready to serve, warm the bordelaise sauce over a low heat (taking care not to let it boil) and add the tomato, tarragon and tuna bone marrow, if using. Spoon over the tuna steak and serve immediately with the Yorkshire puddings.


Recipes excerpted with permission Take One Fish by Josh Niland published by Hardie Grant Books, August 2021.

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