Perhaps you've never heard of mojama (mo-hum-a) de atun. I surely enough didn't have the slightest clue what it was until our fish delivery guy lugged a huge loin of tuna over to the restaurant for a Gourmet Traveller charity dinner and we had to make it ourselves. Basically it's trimmed tuna loin that's salt-cured for 2 days then air-dried, a little like rindless fish bacon. It proved such a hit at the said charity dinner that the dish has earned itself a permanent spot on the menu. Organ donors should be glad to know that their loins are being used for a good cause.
For event number 2 of Tried, Tested and True, I'm providing recipes for the completed dish (assuming that everyone knows how to toast nuts). As pictured above, the mojama is sliced as thinly as possible so that it melts in the mouth. It's served with a creamy avocado puree, fire-roasted pequillo peppers, pickled cauliflower, peeled walnuts and the slightest drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Mojama de Atun
1 loin of tuna
500 g rock salt
500 g castor sugar
5 Tbsp smoked paprika
Trim away any sinew and bloodline from the tuna and discard.
Slice the tuna lengthways into fillets 5-6cm in diameter.
Combine salt, sugar and paprika.
Sprinkle a third of the salt mix onto a tray and lay the tuna loin on top.
Pack the remaining salt around the exposed sides of the tuna and refrigerate.
The salt cure will draw moisture out of the fish and create a brine.
After 24 hours, flip the fillets over and leave for another 24 hours.
Lift the fillets out of the brine and place onto a rack on a clean tray and leave refrigerated for 24 hours. Do not cover. The circulating air will help to dry out and effectively preserve the fish.
At this stage they should have a very dark colouring and be quite firm.
Rinse off the fillets under cold running water to remove the salt cure and pat dry.
Wrap tightly in clingfilm and store in the fridge.
400 ml water
150 ml white wine vinegar
150 ml white wine
50 g castor sugar
50 g salt
10 g white peppercorns
10 g coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch thyme
100 g eschallots, sliced
1 head cauliflower
Place all ingredients except cauliflower in a pot and simmer to infuse aromatics for 10 minutes.
Trim the cauliflower, keeping only the florets for pickling.
Add cauliflower to the pickling liquid and bring to the boil.
Remove from heat immediately and when cool, refrigerate immersed in liquid.
3 ripe avocados
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
60 ml extra virgin olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a food processor.
Store in fridge with the avocado seeds thrown in to slow down discolouration.
To assemble smear a dollop of avocado puree onto the plate. Caramelise lightly with a blowtorch or salamander (the oven, not the animal). With a sharp knife, slice the cured tuna as thinly as possible and layer this with slivers of fire-roasted pequillo peppers (if you can't get your hands on this excellent Spanish product, substitute with roasted red peppers), a few florets of pickled cauliflower and a few crushed walnuts. To finish, give the tuna a crack of fresh white pepper, a drizzle of fruity extra virgin olive oil and garnish with a few leaves of baby coriander.