The Original Spreadable Tuna Mousse (Spuma di Tonno) Recipe

Makes: About 1 1/2 cups

If I could bring anything to the world of gastronomy, this would be my first entry. The best testimonial was from la Signora. After her first taste, it was one of the items she asked for on more than a few occasions. I learned to make it at Albergo del Sole in Maleo, Italy. The chef, Franco, made his with poached John Dory, and he suggested trying it with tuna in olive oil. Serve it as an hors d’oeuvre, snack, or first course. It is especially important to use good-quality tuna. A number are available from Europe: A’s Do Mar, Flott, Callipo, and Ortiz. Since there doesn’t seem to be a standard for retail tuna packing, I have specified the amount of drained tuna to use.

Serve with bread sticks, small toasts, croutons, crackers, or in celery stalks. It can be topped with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, thinly sliced radish, fleur de sel, piment d’espelette, Spanish pimenton, a pinch of toasted and ground fennel seeds, shaved bottarga, or truffles. It also makes a great tuna sandwich.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 10 ounces drained Italian, Spanish, or Portuguese tuna packed in oil (about 2 cups)
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and lemon juice.
  2. Break down the tuna in a food processor by pulsing first, then running, until it is evenly chopped but not puréed. Add the liquid seasonings and process until the mixture is smooth. After a few seconds, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate the tuna that didn’t get into the purée.
  3. With the machine running, add the butter, piece by piece, adding the next only after each is incorporated. Do not overmix. The butter needs to be blended with the tuna but not whipped to the point that it will melt because of the heat generated in the bowl. Add the cream while pulsing the machine, and as soon as it appears incorporated, basta—that’s it. This will only take a few seconds.
  4. Transfer the mousse to a bowl or storage container and keep refrigerated. The mousse can be made up to 3 days before serving. Take it out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before serving to let it soften.

Wine recommendation: From Lombardy, a sparkling Franciacorta from Castellino or Bellavista

© 2007 David Shalleck

This recipe, while from a trusted source, may not have been tested by the CHOW food team.