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Tonino's Tuna Tartare

(recipe, Cassandra Funsten)

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Tuna season in Sicily begins in the spring and lasts through the summer, making the fish synonymous with the warm season. Given that fish is almost always bought from a street-side stall or one of Palermo’s famous open-air markets, it's best to purchase it in the morning, when it's freshest. If I’m lucky, my fishmonger, Tonino, scrapes the flesh off of the tuna’s bones after cutting me off a piece and prepares a tasty bit of tuna tartare on the spot. Truly fast food.


  1. 14 oz. (400 grams) sushi-grade tuna (see Note)
  2. 1 bunch of mint
  3. 2 lemons: 1 juiced and zested, 1 thinly sliced
  4. Fine sea salt
  5. Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. Chop up the tuna irregularly with your sharpest knife together with the mint and the lemon zest. Add salt to taste and the lemon juice.
  2. Arrange the tuna on a plate, with the lemon slices to be used as spoons. Drizzle with a touch of olive oil.


At your fishmonger's, ask for a cut from the center on the fish’s underside near the head. It should be dark red. Culinate editor's note: The tuna most beloved in the Mediterranean is the endangered bluefin tuna. If your local fishmonger carries it, try to get the more sustainable Pacific albacore tuna instead.