Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pickled Tuna

I feel especially happy today: two reasons primarily. One is because I got to meet an old childhood friend, Ranjana, who flew down from Sweden to spend time with her granny in Delhi. The other is that I shall get to see Len tomorrow night after a whole week - he is in Siliguri, for work.

Pickled tuna to spice up a dull meal

Ranjana, Madhu, and I: how long do we go back? Possibly when we were six, seven, or eight years old. I cannot clearly remember how we first met but as little girls in the neighbourhood, there was little else needed to build a friendship apart from possibly a love for play-time in the evenings and, yes, a severe dislike of singing classes that we attended every Saturday morning. At six or seven, classical music was not appealing to any of us, neither was the lady who taught us. In retrospect she was a rather sweet lady, who never forgot to bring us presents on our birthdays, or little knick-knacks now and then. But at that cruel age, none of these gestures made up for the strong aversion we had for that brand of music, nor the seemingly wasted Saturday mornings, sitting indoors pouring over a harmonium instead of playing little-girl games - whatever they might have been!

That was years ago. But it struck me suddenly today that the three of us who shared many-a-dull hour straining our vocal chords in unison, are now separated from each other by a continent each. Madhu in the US, Ranjana in Europe, I in Asia! Nevertheless, with some friends you pick up from where you left before and that is how it is with us :)  

The reason I am posting about a tuna pickle is because as Ranjana and I got talking over coffee today, she happened to mention that she is a big fan of pickles. I had tried out this recipe some time back, as a back-up plan for those quick-meal nights when all Len and I can muster up is a pot of rice and a pan of daal! This is the perfect accompaniment that can make week-night cooking a little bit easier and bit more satisfying :)

Pickled tuna in a jar

What you need

150 gm, fresh tuna* chunks, diced into 3 cm pieces
2 tbsp, freshly ground pepper powder
2-3 tbsp, ginger-garlic paste
2 inch piece, ginger roughly sliced
4-5 fat garlic cloves, roughly sliced
1 standard cup, vinegar (I used apple cider)
I tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp, chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
20 curry leaves
Oil, half cup (I used a 70:30 ratio of vegetable and coconut oil)
salt to taste

*This recipe would work well with shrimps, prawn, chicken, or even pork. The cooking time will vary depending on the meat used, but the flavours would be without doubt absolutely fantastic!

How to

Chop the tuna into small chunks - a teaspoon can hold about 4 or 5 pieces. Wash, clean, and air dry for a bit.

Then, marinate the tuna with some salt, about 3 tbsp vinegar, and ginger-garlic paste. (I left this in the fridge for a night, stirring it from time to time.)

Before you begin this step, allow the marinated fish come to room temperature. In a pan heat the oil. Add the tuna chunks along with the marinade, and fry until completely cooked. The oil will separate and the fish would be a dark brown colour and ready to eat. Remove from oil and keep aside.

In the same pan, throw in the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the sliced ginger and garlic and fry until they are slightly brownish. Add the turmeric and chilli powder. Keep stirring. After a couple of minutes, add the rest of the vinegar. The vinegar should boil over and evaporate. I simmered this for about 7-10 minutes, or until the raw smell of vinegar (which is quite terrible!) disappeared.

Immerse the fried fish back into the pan. Cook this mixture for about ten minutes or so, or until everything is nicely integrated.

Remove from heat. Cool. Transfer into a clear, glass jar. Always store in the refrigerator (unless you reside in sub-zero temperatures!).

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