Tuna in stemperata sauce

Diana Henry serves fresh tuna in the traditional Sicilian way with a piquant sweet-sour sauce
By Diana Henry
Tuna in stemperata sauce
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 2
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Effort: medium


For the tuna

  • 2 thick tuna steaks
  • olive oil, for frying
  • balsamic vinegar, for deglazing

For the stemperata sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 sticks celery
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • small handfulpitted green olives, some halved, some coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, rinsed of salt or vinegar and drained
  • 1½ tbsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 75 g raisins, plumped up in a little hot water
  • sugar, (optional)

To serve

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sprigs oregano


1. For the stemperata sauce: heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan and fry the onion and celery until soft and just beginning to turn golden.

2. Add the garlic, olives, capers, oregano, vinegar and raisins and cook for another couple of minutes until the vinegar is evaporated. (If necessary add some sugar to the pan; this will be dependent on the vinegar you use.)

3. For the tuna: heat a griddle or frying pan until hot. Rub salt and freshly ground pepper on each side of the fish and cook it for about 1 minute on each side. (If using a frying pan, add a little olive oil to the pan; if using a griddle, rub the tuna with olive oil and dont add any to the pan.) This will give you tuna which is like a rare steak charred on the outside, pink and melting inside. In the final few seconds splash in some balsamic vinegar and let it bubble away.

4. To serve, put a tuna steak on each plate, spoon over the stemperata sauce, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and garnish with a sprig of oregano.

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