Grilled Radicchio, Fennel & Tuna with Spicy Anchovy Dressing

I am obsessed with anchovies. I know that some people can’t stand the intense salty, fishy flavour but that it precisely the reason I love them so. I can do a whole tin in one sitting spread onto hot buttered toast – often I’ll do a soft boiled egg to dip the salty soldiers into. This is possibly my favourite snack and one which I’m very tempted to bust out at our next Guilty Pleasures Dinner Party.

The dinner is supposed to be a place to share culinary creations you shouldn’t really enjoy but you do and I pondered the eligibility of my egg and soldier offering. I mean, many people already love anchovies, right? Think Rowley Leigh’s parmesan custard with anchovy toasts, think lamb studded with rosemary and anchovies, think Worcestershire Sauce, Gentleman’s Relish, Caesar salad, fish sauce, bagna cauda…I could go on.

And then I realised, anchovies are a very guilty pleasure indeed, because we shouldn’t really be eating them at all. Stocks of the salty suckers are dwindling and I for one am gutted. I’m probably single handedly responsible for tipping the balance into the red. Well, me and Rowley Leigh who quite rightly laments that there is no substitute.

So, I’m trying to cut down (a little bit) – I’m taking things one week at a time. Can’t people just start breeding them or something? Crikey, I’m tempted to set up some sort of operation on my balcony just to keep a personal supply going. I thought I might have made the whole thing worse by using tuna in this dish too but that’s OK as long as it’s not Bigeye, Northern Bluefin, Pacific Bluefin or Southern Bluefin, apparently. Phew.

I’d like to say I’ll be able to stop eating anchovies but I’m not quite sure I can make that promise. I mean, I have an addiction, I can’t just go cold turkey – I’ll need professional help.

Grilled Radicchio, Fennel and Tuna with Spicy Anchovy Dressing (serves 2, generously)

1/2 head radicchio
1 bulb fennel
1 tuna steak
1 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (or soak your own)

For the dressing

1 large red chilli, de-seeded or not (up to you) and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 handful mint leaves, chopped
Juice of 1/2 large lemon plus an extra squeeze to finish
6 anchovy fillets (more or less depending on taste)
Black pepper
Pinch of sugar
Oil (I used rapeseed)

– To make the dressing either whack the garlic, chilli, mint, anchovies, sugar and black pepper in a blender or pound in a pestle and mortar (my preference) until you have a mushy paste. Add the lemon juice and about 4 tablespoons of oil and mix thoroughly to emulsify. Adjust the quantities as necessary. If your dressing is too tart or you feel like it is punching you in the mouth, add another pinch of sugar.
– Remove any tired outer leaves from the radicchio then cut lengthways through the core and then do the same again so that you have four wedges. Cut the fennel lengthways through the core into slices, taking care to remove any tough bits of core but leaving enough so that it stays together in slices.
– Brush the wedges of radicchio and fennel with some of the dressing, reserving a teaspoon for the beans and some for drizzling at the end. Then grill them either on a hot griddle or the BBQ.
– Rub the tuna steak with oil and season. Grill for 1 minute each side then set aside on a warm plate while you assemble the salad.
– Arrange the fennel and radicchio slices on plates. Mix 1 teaspoon of the dressing with the beans and scatter over. Slice the tuna across the grain and arrange on the plate before drizzling over some of the remaining dressing and adding a final squeeze of lemon juice.

Category: Barbecue, Dressings, Fish, Main Dishes, Pulses, Salads, Vegetables 21 comments »

21 Responses to “Grilled Radicchio, Fennel & Tuna with Spicy Anchovy Dressing”

  1. Sara

    Oh my god, this looks amazing – nom nom nom

  2. gastrogeek

    Love, love, love anchovies. Fab recipe.

  3. Lizzie

    Oh dear. Why would you post this just before lunch? I want it! Now!

    I also love anchovies and any opportunity I can they go into a dish so it’s a terrible shame they’re unethical to eat.

  4. Kerri

    I can’t keep up with what fish I can eat and what I can’t but I didn’t realise anchovies were on the banned list :( I do have six tins and two jars in my cupboard already though so I guess I’m OK for now!

  5. Oysterculture

    Love anchovies as well, and using them as a basis for a dressing is a favorite. Also grilling the radicchio and fennel makes for an amazing salad. What a triumphant combination. =)

  6. Dan Coward

    Caterpillars of tuna!

  7. Fearless Kitchen

    This looks delicious. The Spouse is a big anchovy fan, so you can blame dwindling stocks on him :)

  8. The Curious Cat

    Really are anchovies on the decline? I never knew that…poor salty things…I love putting them into tomato pasta sauce – gives it a wonderful flavour…on my pizza or from the jar… you are my kinda girl…but alas – what are we to do about this terrible crisis?!

  9. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    This looks wonderful! In my family we all LOVE anchovies, even my teenage step-daughters – one of their favorite pizza toppings of all time!!! :)

    This salad looks wonderful, Helen!

  10. Krista

    If only, just like herb gardens, we could start our own anchovy gardens. How fun would that be?

  11. Cheese India

    Looks delicious! It will loved by all.

  12. Nate

    Grilled raddichio and fennel – what a great summer salad!

  13. Helen

    Sara – Thanks very much! It was.
    Gastrogeek – they are truly a food of the Gods.
    Lizzie – I did it DELIBERATELY Mwahahahaha!
    Kerri – OK, me, Rowley and you are responsible for the decline of the anchovy…
    Oysterculture – I actually don’t think I can give them up. It really is a huge problem. Do I leave some anchovies for the next generation or selfishly gobble them myself?
    Dan – HA! mmmm tasty caterpillars
    Fearless Kitchen – It seems more and more addicts are coming out of the woodwork
    The Curious Cat – I know. Tis a terrible situation. I only had a vague idea before I started looking into it recently. I should have just ignored it and carried on.
    Jenn- Ahh the love for the anchovy at a tender age. Good stuff.
    Krista – That would be LOADS of fun. I’m looking into it. I’m sure my landlord won’t mind…

  14. joey

    My hubby and I love anchovies too! We probably have some blame as well for the decline…oh no!

  15. Jan

    Opened some anchovies night before last that we’d brought back from France, to find they were off! Pooooeeee, did they stink – perhaps that was a sign we shouldn’t have been eating them!

    Your dish looks utterly delicous.

  16. FoodTravelDiva

    Interesting recipe! I’ll have to give it a try. I’m so envious you got to go to Jerk Cook Out 2009. Reminds me of my visit to Jamaica a couple years ago. I could eat some Jerk food this minute!

  17. Anh

    I just love the look of this dish. So delicious!

    Love your site by the way. So happy to find ya!

  18. James

    I don’t know about a balcony – it’s an altana you want to be eating this on! Right now would be nice……

  19. David

    Enjoy your anchovies.
    Information you read about sustainability is often incomplete and unchecked. Whilst there are areas which are overfished such as Cantabrian Sea/Bay of Biscay others such as Moroccan Atlantic are fine with reviews by organisations such as Friend of the Sea.

  20. Alexis

    Thanks for this recipe Helen – the dressing in particular was delicious.


  21. Helen

    David – thank you, very interesting.
    Alexis – I am so glad you liked it! Always lovely to hear feedback too so thanks for letting me know.

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