When you have more tuna than you know what to do with, curing it is a great way to ensure that it lasts for weeks. The process is similar to making a Spanish Mojama, except the brine is a 50:50 mixture of salt and sugar; the latter keeps the tuna from getting too salty. Also, instead of hanging the cured tuna in a shady breezy spot for up to a month, this gets dried in the refrigerator for less than a week, leaving it with a velvety smooth texture. The juniper berries, with their sweet resinous flavor literally brings the heavenly umami of the tuna back down to earth, allowing it to pair beautifully with the sweet juicy spheres of musky melon.
- Put the juniper berries in a spice grinder and grind. Mix the ground juniper berries with the salt and sugar.
- Sprinkle the curing mixture all over the tuna. There should be a thick coating of the mixture on all sides of the tuna.
- Wrap the tuna with plastic wrap, leaving one end open (to drain liquid from the tuna).
- Place the tuna on one side of a sheet pan, with the opening in the plastic wrap facing the other side of the pan. Place another sheet pan on top of the tuna along with some weights such as a couple cans. Place the setup in your refrigerator using a shim to prop up one side of the trays so that any liquid that comes out of the tuna drains out of the plastic towards the opposite side of the tray. Let the tuna cure for 2-3 days.
- When the tuna is done curing it should be dark in color and firm. Rinse the surface of the tuna and then pat dry with paper towels. Place the tuna on a rack set above a tray and put the setup in the refrigerator uncovered. Dry the tuna anywhere from 3 days to 1 week. The longer you let it dry, the firmer the ham and the more concentrated its flavors will be.
- Select a long sharp knife such as a sashimi knife or a carving knife. Drizzle the knife and surface of the cured tuna with olive oil. Keeping the knife and tuna well oiled will make cutting it much easier as it will tend to stick to the knife. Cut slices of the ham as thinly as possible in a single stroke (using a sawing motion will tear the tuna apart)
- Slice the melon in half and remove the seeds. Use a melon baller to carve out balls of melon.
- Skewer a piece of melon along with a piece of cured tuna. Serve immediately.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: none
Passive time: none
- 1/2 teaspoon juniper berries
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon 1 tablespoon
- 200 grams bluefin tuna loin
- 1very ripe melon