Beginning in March, schools of Atlantic bluefin tuna migrate through the Strait of Gibraltar to reach their spawning grounds in the Mediterranean and Tyrrhenian Seas. In the early days of summer, Sicilian fishermen embark on Mattanza, the ancient practice of driving schools of tuna fish into a carefully arranged system of nets. As a result, tuna is heavily featured in traditional Sicilian fare.
Today, as a result of overfishing worldwide, bluefin tuna are considered to be endangered. We therefore choose to use sustainably fished albacore or skipjack where traditional recipes call for the use of bluefin. We know that navigating sustainable food options can be a challenge. Luckily, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch is a great resource for finding sustainable seafood options.
POLPETTE DI TONNO FRESCO - SICILIAN TUNA MEATBALLS
▢ 1 lb fresh albacore or skipjack
▢ 1 small yellow onion
▢ 2 tbsp finely chopped pine nuts
▢ 1 egg
▢ 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
▢ 1 tsp Nepitella
▢ 1 tsp Sicilian Sea Salt with Organic Lemon
▢ Freshly ground black pepper
▢ 1 cup all purpose flour
▢ 4 tbsp Heritage Blend olive oil
▢ 1 jar Puttanesca
- Cut the fish into chunks and place the fish in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
- Peel and finely mince the onion. Place the onion and fish in a large mixing bowl with pine nuts, Sicilian Sea Salt with Lemon, black pepper and Nepitella. Stir to combine. Add the breadcrumbs and egg to the mixture and stir to combine.
- Measure out a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and roll into a ball. Place on the parchment lined baking sheet, and continue with the rest of the mixture.
- Place a large pan with 4 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Pour 1 cup of all purpose flour on a large plate. Once the oil is hot, roll a meatball in the flour and fry it in the pan and continue in this way until the pan is about half full. You don’t want to overcrowd the pan as the liquid released from the tuna will make it harder for the meatballs to gain a good sear. Sear the meatballs, rotating as they brown, removing them to a clean plate as they’re ready. Once they’re all seared off, pour out any excess oil from the pan, and place the tuna balls back in the pan and pour the Puttanesca sauce overtop. Simmer covered until cooked through, roughly 10 minutes.