Basque Pipérade with Seared Tuna Steaks
Pipérade, a sauté of onions, peppers, and tomato, is perhaps the most patriotic dish of Basque country—the colors represent those of the Basque flag. When in the region, you’ll find it served with everything from scrambled eggs to fish and meat. The longer it cooks, the sweeter it gets, so let it simmer on the stovetop for up to a couple of hours, time permitting.
Featured in: Biarritz and the Cuisine of the Sun
- 5 tbsp. rendered duck fat
- 7 oz. jambon de Bayonne or pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed flat
- 1 1⁄4 lb. green padrón or shishito peppers, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1/2-inch-wide strips
- 3 small yellow onions, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- One 10-oz. jar whole red piquillo peppers, drained and torn into 1/2-inch-wide strips
- 1 lb. vine-ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, and roughly chopped
- 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- Kosher salt
- Piment d’Espelette
- 2 lb. tuna belly, cut into eight 4-oz. steaks
- In a large saucepan, warm 2 tablespoons duck fat over medium heat. Add the jambon and garlic, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the padrón peppers and onions to the pan and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 14 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, cook for 2 minutes, then add the piquillo peppers along with the tomatoes, parsley, thyme, and bay leaf. Season the peppers with salt and piment d’Espelette and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes break down and the pipérade is thickened but still loose, about 10 minutes. Scrape the pipérade onto a serving platter and keep warm.
- Meanwhile, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons duck fat in a large skillet over high heat. Season half the tuna steaks with salt, then add to the skillet and cook, turning once, until medium rare, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the tuna steaks to a plate and repeat cooking the remaining raw tuna steaks. Season all the tuna steaks with piment d’Espelette, then arrange the steaks over the pipérade and serve.