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Tuna Confit


Abra
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I've lucked into a bunch of fresh-caught albacore (thanks, DRColby!), and I want to make it last. I've been thinking of tuna confit, but all the recipes I've found say to use it, even though it's in the fridge, within 3-10 days of preparation.

Here's one recipe, edited to meet guidelines.

Incanto's Tuna Confit

2 pounds albacore or yellowfin (ahi) tuna, in one piece

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seed

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

2 sprigs each fresh thyme, parsley and basil

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled

Zest of 1/2 lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler

Extra virgin olive oil to cover, approximately 11/2 quarts

Basically you marinate the tuna in the herbs and spices, then cover it with oil and oven-poach for half an hour. I'm wondering how to make it last for a couple of months. If I leave out the garlic (and possibly the fresh herbs) and put it in the fridge completely covered by the oil, do I need to worry about spoilage? Should I freeze it in the oil? Should I give up on this idea?

Edited by Abra (log)
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I don't know about the texture change, if it's been cooked, and is in oil. I'm hoping that someone has experience with htis sort of dish. And really, I want to leave it sealed for a couple of months, as opposed to dipping into it regularly - I should have been more clear about that part. I have a special Thanksgiving-time dinner party that would really benefit from this dish.

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I've never tried that, Abra. . .but have a feeling that freezing might change the texture. But then again, it depends on what sort of presentation you want, finally.

Whole fish. . .or in a blended texture at service time?

Of course the other ways of preserving fish would be salting and/or smoking. The salting would not work in your recipe, but I am wondering if smoking the tuna before making the confit would assist in possibly making it hold longer. It would likely be delicious, too. . .(though perhaps not what you had in mind. . .)

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Yes, it will spoil. True confit works because the food is poached long enough to eliminate all the water. Bacteria require water to live. The covering of fat prevents water from being reabsorbed. I learned this (to my regret) after making confit of duck and being in a hurry. Your recipe doesn't cook the fish long enough (only 1/2 hour at a low temp) to eliminate all the water.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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After you confit the tuna, pack it in jars with the olive oil and process them in a pressure cooker. Just be sure to boil the jars and all that jazz so you don't get yourself a nice case of botulism.

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Do members know Olympia Jane from the PNW chowhound board? I think she is a member here, too. Ages ago I remember she mentioned she cans her own tuna nicoise or tuna antipasto. This is just part of what she has posted about it... "you can can your own Tuna Nicoise with fresh tuna, kalamata olives, capers, garlic, onions, tiny cornichons...so amazing. So fun. So rewarding...I digress, I wax poetic about Home Canning!"

The full link

I think it is tricky though (not to mention dangerous if not done properly), and I would love to get more details on how this is done.

I am also one of the ones who lucked into Tuna (thank you DRColby)!

~Leslie~

Edited by Blue Heron (log)
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I'm pretty sure that absent garlic or fresh herbs, there's no vector for botulism, but that doesn't mean that it can't spoil in other ways. Jay, do you have a reference on that water issue? I'd love to see something definitive. Actually, I'd love to see a bunch of people saying "go ahead, no problem, we do it all the time!" DRColby told me he's kept tuna confit for a couple of months in the fridge, and that it was only poached in the oil for 10 minutes. He's very much alive, but I wish I had a few more warm bodies to reassure me.

Edited by Abra (log)
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I'm pretty sure that absent garlic or fresh herbs, there's no vector for botulism, but that doesn't mean that it can't spoil in other ways.  Jay, do you have a reference on that water issue?  I'd love to see something definitive.  Actually, I'd love to see a bunch of poeple saying "go ahead, no problem, we do it all the time!"  DRColby told me he's kept tuna confit for a couple of months in the fridge, and that it was only poached in the oil for 10 minutes.  He's very much alive, but I wish Ihad a few more warm bodies to reassure me.

I think Harold McGee's book discusses the need to remove all water from confit, or maybe James Peterson's "French Cooking". I found it to be the case by accident. It's the same with storing duck or goose fat: if it's rendered but not completely boiled so it's de-watered, it will spoil. Once all the water is out (you can tell because the bubbles change and the melted fat gets very clear), it will keep forever.

I've never heard that botulism comes from herbs and garlic. I think botulism can arise even in pure protein, like a bad can of tuna. Herbs and garlic, though, do contain lots of water that won't be rendered out during the confit process.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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As far as I know, the clostridium botulinum spore is found in the soil, hence my plan to exclude any element that might have had soil contact. Is anyone here a preserving expert? I oughta know this stuff better!

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