Seared Tuna & Sweetcorn Salsa

  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Serves: 2
  • Level: easy

Fresh tuna and sweetcorn come together here in a Mexican style dish. Make the salsa as hot as you like. Serve as is – or with black beans and coriander rice and hot tortillas.

A Mexican inspired tuna and sweetcorn recipe.

What you need

250g fresh tuna steak

1 fresh cob of corn

1 large white onion

1 fennel bulb

Half red pepper

1 or more red or green chillies

1 large clove of garlic with skin on

1 large ripe vine tomato

12 pitted black olives

2 small bunches of very small cherry tomatoes with their stalks attached


1 small handful of fresh chopped coriander or parsley

4 tbs virgin olive oil

2 tbs lime juice

2 fresh limes


Dad's Recipe Tales

A taste for corn

Everybody loves corn.

Today it’s the world’s most popular grain by weight, a fact that underlines its importance to our economy – and our diet.

Maize is a wonderfully evocative plant. Tall stalks swaying in the wind, drooping leaves and sprouting fat yellow cobs is a picture we can all imagine. Fields of corn create havens of intrigue and allure and have their own stories to tell. No wonder we have such strong connections with the grain.

Corn – or maize – is remarkably versatile. It is also an economically valuable product, able to be processed into ethanol for biofuels, vegetable oil and sugar syrup for domestic and industrial use, or feedstocks for animal husbandry. Of course, it can also be ground into flour or harvested straight off the plant for human consumption. In this form, maize is nothing, if not robust: either processed into cans or frozen in bags, it effortlessly retains its colour, flavour, and texture.

I love corn. Or, I should say I love fresh corn, or “corn on the cob” as it is known in the USA. Our family lived in sunny California nearby to cornfields, so naturally, “corn on the cob” was a mainstay of our diet. However, when we moved to the UK and were unable to find fresh corn, we also ate canned and frozen corn.

But here’s the rub… I’m not that keen on canned or frozen corn. Perhaps it was the privilege of eating so much fresh “corn on the cob” growing up in America. Or maybe its ubiquitous appearance as a side vegetable in childrens meals makes me associate processed corn with “kid’s food.”

This may be harsh and unfair, after all I’m a devout champion of maize in its natural form and canning or freezing corn is hardly a culinary crime.

I am therefore happy to eat corn “off its cob,” but I also like to adapt it wherever possible to make it more, well, “grown-up” and interesting. Adaptations normally involve large amounts of butter and pepper. More often, it will involve frying or charring as in the salsa recipe here, or mixing with other ingredients such as rice, peppers, or chilli.

Occasionally, it will involve combining with tuna – but that’s another story…


How Dad Cooked It

This recipe uses a Mexican comal or a flat cast iron griddle (a non-stick pan can be used as well). The idea is partially to cook the vegetables whilst charring the outside in the Mexican way. In particular, tomatoes are often charred before turning into a sauce. Here the cherry tomatoes are a reminder of this technique. If the vegetables become too black, scrape off the burnt bits or keep them on for an authentic character. Fresh tuna steaks are best when under-cooked, so it is important to “sear” the tuna quickly with a very hot pan, otherwise cook according to individual tastes.

  1. Cook the vegetables. Slice the onion and fennel into one large slice each about 7mm thick. Cut the pepper so it will lay flat. Trim the chilli (remove the seeds and membrane to reduce the heat if desired). Using a cast iron or non-stick pan on high heat cook the cob of corn, onion, fennel, pepper, cherry tomatoes, chilli and garlic clove until evenly charred – remove pieces from the pan that cook the quickest. Set all the vegetables aside to cool. NB: Keep the cherry tomatoes separate.
  2. Prepare the vine tomato. Plunge the tomato into boiling water for 10 seconds and then peel off the skin, cool, and cut into quarters. Remove the seeds and membranes and strain into a large bowl.
  3. Prepare the vegetables. Peel the garlic and mash with the side of a knife and put in the bowl with the strained tomato juice. Cut the kernels from the cob, slice the olives, chop the remaining charred vegetables and the vine tomato to an even size and place all in the bowl. Add the olive oil and lime juice and mix. Season well with salt and pepper and add more lime or chilli sauce to taste. Chop the coriander and set aside.
  4. Cook the tuna. Season the tuna on all sides with salt and pepper and oregano. The oregano should coat the tuna. Heat a pan on high heat and when very hot add the tuna. Cook until the tuna is cooked just under a quarter of the way up the sides of the tuna steak (the cooked tuna is white and opaque), then turn over, and cook no more than a minute. Using tongs briefly char the sides and end of the steak. Wrap the tuna loosely in foil to rest.
  5. Serve. Slice the tuna at an angle with a very sharp carving knife and arrange on plates. Mix the coriander into the salsa and arrange next to the tuna. Arrange the cherry tomatoes next to the salsa. Serve with lime wedges.

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