Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Island Hopping to Sicily

Our friends Noel and Keith are in Italy. I miss them and I miss Italy! OK, I might even be a little jealous. It has been a few years since I was in cooking school in Italy. The time we spent there was probably one of the highlights of my life. When we hosted Noel and Keith's Bon Voyage Party, I had planned a big Italian meal, but Keith(it was also his birthday) wanted an Indian Dinner, so that is what I made, a GRANDE Curry Extravaganza. 

My Italian taste buds were still floating around in my mind after they left for Italy .... so I tried a new idea using Ahi Tuna which is abundant and inexpensive here (compared to the mainland anyway). It is quite common to see fishermen sitting along the road with big commercial coolers selling fish, most often Ahi, but also parrot fish that are caught spear fishing and beautiful big lobsters that they have gone diving for. There are also high quality fish counters in most of our local markets. Fishermen have made deals with the KTA and Sack n Save chains to buy their local catches. Safeway unfortunately sells mostly mainland fish. Go figure. LOTS of farmed salmon (colorant added) and Dungeness Crab. I don't get it, but that is another story. This one is about freshly caught local Ahi cooked in a method used on another island far away, Sicily. 

This recipe takes some resting time and is best if you start it a few days before you plan to serve it. I think you might just love this...
Grilled Tuna Rollatini under Tomato-Lemon Marinade 
Inspired by my favorite Italian Cook, Lydia Matticchio Bastianich 
When traveling through Sicily, you will often encounter tuna or swordfish rollatini or involtini as the Sicilians call them. It is a traditional dish there. What makes the dish particularly delicious and interesting is that they roll the rollatini in bread crumbs before grilling. 
Lydia taught me to add another step to the traditional method. She marinates them overnight in olive oil fresh thyme and garlic and then smothers them in a wonderful salsa of lemon and tomato after they have been grilled. The longer they sit before and after cooking, the more flavorful they become. 

This is a versatile preparation, easily doubled or tripled when you have an entire loin of tuna, as we often do here in Hawaii, then schedule the marinating and grilling to your convenience. You can serve them hot off the grill or later at room temperature when they taste even better. 

One rollatini makes a beautiful first course; tow make an entrĂ©e and a few slices make a great tuna sandwich for a picnic. You can also bake them in the oven if you don’t have a grill. 
For the Garlic-Infused Oil 
6 fat garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup olive oil 
For the Flavored Bread Crumbs 
1 cup fine medium dry bread crumbs
½ teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian Parsley
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon peperoncino (hot red pepper flakes)
2 tablespoons finely chopped pine nuts (I used macadamia nuts)
2 tablespoons finely chopped golden raisins or dates
2 tablespoons of the garlic infused olive oil 
For grilling and marinating the Rollatini 
1 ½ Pounds fresh tuna loin (ahi is best)
6 fresh thyme branches
About two cups oof the Fresh Tomato-Lemon Salsa 
Reserved  seasoned bread crumbs
Preparing the Garlic Oil and Crumbs
Stir the slices of garlic and salt into the olive oil. Let it sit at least one hour, longer is better. 

Mix all of the bread crumb ingredients together, then use your hands to blend in 2 Tablespoons of the garlic oil. Rub the crumbs with your fingers so that they’re evenly moistened. 

Preparing the Rollatini 
Slice the tuna into thin slices. Using a mallet or a heavy pan, pound the tuna to ¼ inch thickness. 
Sprinkle each scallop with a couple of pinches of salt, then cover with a thin layer (about 2 teaspoons) of the seasoned bread crumbs. 

Roll up and secure with toothpicks and place them all in a baking dish close together in one layer. Drizzle over them 2 Tablespoons of the garlic oil and scatter a spoon of the garlic slices. Drop in the thyme branches and turn the rollatini to coat with oil on all sides. Let them marinate for at least an hour, preferably 2-24 hours in the refrigerator. 

Grilling and Marinating 

Heat and clean the grill rack over medium heat. Rub the grill with a piece of paper towel dipped in olive oil. 

Take the Rollatini out of the marinade and roll them in remaining bread crumbs, pressing so that the bread crumbs adhere to the rollatini on all sides. When the grill is prepared, lay the rollatini at right angles to the grate. Allow the tuna to sear without being moved for 2-3 minutes until they have been branded with grill marks on the bottom. The bread crumbs should be golden, not brown. Turn down the fire or raise the rack if they are cooking to fast. 

Using tongs, rotate the rollatini 180 degrees, so the first grill marks are on top. Grill and mark the opposite side for about 2 minutes. Turn 90 degrees and grill about 1 ½ minutes on the third side and then rotate them all to finish the remaining side for a minute or so. Drizzle remaining garlic oil on the rollatini as you turn it. 

After being grilled on all sides (6-8 minutes total) the rollatini should be cooked through, but moist in the middle. Place on a serving dish and remove toothpicks. They can be served warm but for the most flavor, allow to cool and spread with the tomato lemon salsa and allow to marinate for 2 hours. Serve at room temperature one or two per person. For longer marinating refrigerate the rollatini after 3 hours at room temperature and serve the following day. They will keep for up to 4 days if properly sealed. 

Stay Tuned... I am not finished with my Italian Jag... Next Post will be Long Slow Cooked Velvety Sugo with Turkey and Pine Nut Meatballs... Bellisimo!


Blake said...

Oh my Devany that looks delicious! I just ate and it still makes me hungry to see. Can hardly wait for the next one!

asly said...

Devany, can you be persuaded to be a personal chef for folks coming to the island??? Just kidding (sort of) Looks fabulous!

Devany said...

Blake, I am looking forward to when you guys can come to our house for dinner! Hurry back to the big island!

Asly, When you come on your next visit, you are certainly invited for dinner.


Coconut Girl Connie said...

Wow, Devany, awesome recipe, I am definitely going to try this one. My nephew has his own boat and always gives me fish...and he loves to cook and try different recipes, he will love this! I can just see the local boys sitting around with their beer enjoying great Italian cuising hee! hee!

Sam said...

How come every time I read your blog all I can think about after that is what's for chow?