Grilled Tuna with Black Olive Salsa

My fish market offers sushi grade tuna and today it was ruby red and irrestistible.  All I wanted to do was sear it on the outside and keep it rare on the inside.  The rare tuna is pretty much a blank canvas on which I could go a variety of directions. 

I like to rub tuna with some Meditteranean herbs an hour or so ahead of cooking (no salt or acid of any kind–just some herbs).  I use thyme, chili flakes, black pepper, lemon zest, and olive oil.  The thyme and chili flakes give the tuna a nice earthiness with a spicy kick, and the lemon zest, brightens it up. 

For moisture, a raw salsa is always nice with rare tuna.  Although it’s  not tomato season, I bought some nice looking plum tomatoes the other day that have been ripening on my window sill.  They get chopped, salted and placed in a strainer to drain for an hour.  This removes water and intensifies flavor–I even do it with summer tomatoes at their peak. 

In addition, I wanted some olives but found only olive paste in my pantry–so  a dollop of black olive paste is perfect stirred into the tomatoes.  To reinforce the lemon flavor of the tuna, I’ve added some lemon zest to the tomato and olive salsa.  Lots of chives (from my neighbor Beppi’s garden) give the salsa a nice raw but mild onion-y bite. 

I served this with Israeli couscous with zucchini and onion (see post below).

 Grilled Tuna with Black Olive Salsa

serves 4

Rub for tuna:

2 lbs sushi-grade tuna

2 tsp fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp chili flakes

zest of 1 lemon

1 tbls olive oil

1 tsp black pepper


1 lb plum tomatoes, diced into 1/2″ chunks

1 tbl black olive paste

3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

2 tbls fresh chives

salt and pepper to taste

An hour ahead, sprinkle rub ingredients over fish and let marinate in fridge for an hour or so. 

Place tomatoes in strainer over a bowl and allow to drain while fish is marinating.


 After an hour, combine the remaining salsa ingredients and let stand at room temperature until ready to grill.

 Grill tuna on high flame for 1 – 1/2 minutes per side.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve.  Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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