Light, fresh and yet impressively fancy, a good tuna tartare is a thing of beauty and one of those exceedingly simple snacks I crave on balmy evenings when the wine is cold and the kitchen is off-limits. Preempting what will be a summer of snacking, I’ve served my tartare simply seasoned with salted potato crisps on the side – rather unorthodox but the crunch of chips with the zesty richness of the tartare is a winning combination!

Once again, I’m singing the praises of my local fishmonger – Charlie’s Fish Shop in Saldanha Bay – as they kept aside these gorgeous yellowfin tuna steaks for me. Closer to Cape Town, Greenfish offers responsibly pole-caught tuna delivered to your door.

If working on a budget, one can use smaller offcuts for this recipe but for me, I’m happy to push the boat out for such gorgeous tuna. I start off by taking the fish from the fridge and slicing the tuna steaks into small cubes. While this recipe would also work with salmon, tuna is the more sustainable option, with local tuna caught using hand or pole-lined methods. Bonito (skipjack/katonkel) is also a wonderful substitute and fresh bonito can often be found in Kalk Bay Harbour.

In terms of flavouring, I’m a bit of a purist. Red onion, capers and lemon for acidity, with the latter only added just before serving so not to turn the tartare into a ceviche. Cracked black pepper, some feathery fronds of dill and perhaps a shaving of Parmesan don’t go amiss, as does a healthy glug of grassy olive oil. The result is a very sexy dinner party starter that is best suited to a festive season in our southern hemisphere.

Yellowfin Tuna Tartare

Prep time: 15 mins /Cook time: 0 /Serves: 4-6

You will need:

  • 500g yellowfin tuna steaks
  • Half of a small red onion
  • 1 tablespoon baby capers
  • 2-3 fronds of fresh dill
  • 1 lemon, zested (juice reserved)
  • A few Parmesan shavings (optional)
  • 50ml good quality olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 1 bag of plain salted potato chips (I love Flanagans or Lays)

Slice the tuna steaks into small cubes and place into a mixing bowl. Finely dice the red onion and add to the tuna, along with the capers. Pick off the feathery tops of half the dill and add to the fish, reserving the rest for garnish. Add in the lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Use a spoon to gently combine the ingredients before plating the tartare – either on to a platter for sharing or into individual dishes. Once plated, drizzle over the olive oil and garnish with the reserved dill and Parmesan shavings. Just before serving, squeeze over a spritzing of lemon juice for brightness and enjoy with your favourite white or dry rosé wine.


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