I took without using any sauce a tuna fish, an exceedingly fine specimen, poured plenty of olive oil over it, wrapped it like a baby in fig leaves, sprinkled it with marjoram and buried it like a firebrand in hot ashes”
Attributed to Athenaeus, the Partying Professors
(part of an ongoing series in which I share recipes presented at The Lay of El Cid hosted by Barony Bhakail)
Though this instruction asked for a whole, beautiful Mediterranean tuna cooked whole, I was not in a position to do so. I was not serving the fish as a centerpiece to an intimate dinner party which reveres fish, but a tasting menu to a group as a side to other activities. In light of budget and anticipation of a small group of people who would appreciate the dish, I wanted to use a delicate morsel which would carry the flavors well. I opted for boquerones, a small white herring already skinned and boned, and packed in olive oil. They were very easy to work with and held flavors well.
16 oz fresh or frozen (not thawed)
tuna, mackerel, herring, or other available rich fish cut into one ounce or four ounce portions, depending on your needs.
Vine leaves, jarred.
4 oz olive oil
¼ tsp marjoram, dried
Remove some vine leaves from the jar, place in a bowl of water while trimming fish. Discard rinsing water after use.
Cut fish into desired portions, skinless and boneless.
Toss in bowl with olive oil, marjoram, and salt.
Wrap completely in vine leaves, much like an envelope.
Place on parchment lined baking sheets
Store in cold space until ready to go..
Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes for raw fish, checking often as ovens are fickle.
If you are using a prepared fish such as bouquerones, you might blister them, with a torch instead, as they need only to have some char for flavor.
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as an appetiser.
Grant, Mark. Roman Cookery. London: Serif Cookery, 1999. 130. Print.