Fish can be a real minefield for the ethical shopper. Is the fish endangered? Has it been flown across the globe? Frozen? Farmed in an ecologically unsustainable way? Does it have a dangerous level of mercury? Was it tucked tenderly into bed before being caught on a dolphin friendly line? As a result, despite the fact that fish is much healthier than other traditional protein options (read: meat) I don't buy it very often. When we lived in Paris, I did love to make mussels, which are farmed off the French coast in a fairly environmentally friendly way, are abundant, cheap and do not have to travel far. I would also occasionally buy sole or cod. But more often, I resort to the easily interpreted "organic free range chicken" label - especially as I haven't yet found a good fishmonger here in England. I'm lazy even if I do try to be ethical.
Now that I am on a diet, though, I have decided to cut myself (and the family) a bit of slack on the fish issue, albeit temporarily. Seafood is remarkably low in calories and since it's become such a rare treat for us, it makes up for other sacrifices in my diet. (Which, oddly enough, include the only two fish dishes that are easily accessible to me without a fishmonger: kippers and fish and chips. Sigh.) I remember going through a similar phase when pregnant. Can't eat raw oysters? Fine, I'll have another square of chocolate. No wine with dinner? Hand me a pain aux raisins for breakfast, please. And yes, I'll have another tomorrow and in fact every day until this child breathes his first gulp of air.
So when I noticed that my online supermarket had fresh unfarmed tuna on offer, I jumped. Weight watchers points: 3 for a medium portion of tuna and healthy omega oils on the side. A treat no matter how you look at it.
As the tuna, being an oily fish, is higher in calories than most seafood, I wanted to find a really tasty low calorie way to dress it: a simple oil-free salsa verde made with frozen basil, anchovies and lemon juice. You could keep the points insanely low (as I did, after an indulgent breakfast and lunch) and serve it with a lot of freshly steamed broccoli. Or you could add some steamed new potatoes with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Or, if you are not counting calories you could make a nice lemon rice. No matter what else you put on the plate, the tuna will be a star: with a bit of crunchy spice from the peppercorns and zingy green sauce.
Tuna salsa verde (serves 2, WW points per serving: 4, including sauce but no other accompaniments)
2 medium tuna steaks (around 140 g each)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
crushed black peppercorns
For the sauce:
1 small tin of anchovies, drained and rinsed
4 heaping Tbs fresh or frozen chopped basil
1/8 tsp pepper
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2-3 Tbs water
Brush the tuna steaks with the olive oil and press crushed black peppercorns into the steaks. Heat a nonstick or cast-iron frying pan until very hot and add the steaks. Cook for 2-3 minutes until seared and then turn over.
In the meantime, throw all the ingredients for the sauce in a mini-blender and whiz them until smooth. Taste for salt and pepper and check that you like the consistency.
Check the tuna steaks; how long you cook them will ultimately depend on whether you like them fashionably red in the middle or - like the Critic - just barely cooked through. Serve each steak with half the sauce and your choice of accompaniment. Enjoy!