Oil Poached Albacore
With Sungold Tomatoes, New Zealand Spinach, Sweet Corn and Feta
Every season is great for produce in California, but the bright crispness of summer is something special. Right now is peak time for tomatoes; the corn is sweet, the albacore are running, and one of our favorite local wild greens, New Zealand spinach, is just right. So I figured, why not just add butter, olive oil, thyme, fresh pasta from Lucca’s, and leave the flavors to shine through? Serves 4 (with leftovers)
1.5 lbs. fresh pappardelle (my favorite place to get this is from Lucca Ravioli in The Mission. They sell it in sheets by the pound then you can cut it to your favorite width)
4 ears corn
1 lb. Sungold tomatoes
1/2 lb. New Zealand spinach (forage this by the beach). If you can't find any you can sub in a hearty veg like radicchio.
1/2 lb. butter
2 quarts olive oil
1 lb. albacore loin
2 heads garlic
1 bunch thyme (you'll use about a tablespoon when picked)
Mirepoix (1/2 lb onion, 1/2 lb celery, 2 carrots)
1/2 lb. feta cheese
First, you’ve got to poach your fish and get your pasta water going (basically giving your fishy friend a warm oil bath). To save oil, you can also do this in FoodSaver bags sous vide style. If you need to cheat, you can use tuna canned in olive oil. It won’t be quite as tasty, but still pretty delicious. You probably know how to cook pasta, but just in case, get a large pot of very salty water boiling. Cut albacore into 4-inch chunks.
Add garlic and bay to oil in a large pan. You want the oil to cover the fish.
Heat oil to 120 degrees over low heat, and then add the fish. The timing depends a lot on the consistency of the temperature, as well as the size of the fish. You want the loin to cook through without drying out. When the fish pulls easily apart, it’s done, usually after 20-30 minutes. Don’t stress too much, though; it’s a forgiving process with all that oil around.
While that’s cooking, prepare your sauce.
Clean all your veggies, shuck corn, dice your mirepoix, mince your garlic, and pick your thyme.
Now make your sauce: Sweat onion until translucent in oil and plenty of butter. (The butter is going to be what coats your pasta, so be generous.) Add celery and carrot, cook 5 minutes. Add garlic and corn, simmer 5 more minutes. Then add tomatoes and thyme, and reduce heat to simmer while you prepare the fish
By now the fish should be done. Pull it apart into teeth sinkable chunks and mix into sauce. Add salt and pepper to season.
Now throw your pasta into the water and cook until done. (It’ll float and taste delicious). Drain the water, add it to the sauce, and stir gently for 3 minutes until you get a good coating of deliciousness on there. Mix in cheese. And…you’re done! Eat! Add some bread if you like (which I do). If you’re feeling fancy, grill the bread and brush it with fresh garlic. While not many people support the starch-on-starch thing, we all know it tastes great.
Want to learn how to forage your own New Zealand Spinach right here in SF? Take a walk in the woods with our fearless guide "Feral Kevin".