Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tasmanian Tuna Pasta

Every now and then, I tune in to The Cooking Channel. Overall, I like what I see. It's a wonkier version of its sister Food Channel, with less emphasis on personality, more on food and travel. The food tends to outshine the hosts, the opposite of Food Channel.

Which is as it should be, although I do generally like Food Channel. I've thought more than once that The Cooking Channel's sophistication, mellowness and elevation of cuisine over personality may doom it, at least for American audiences.

A few weeks ago, I watched an affable, low key Australian named Bill Granger do a show on cooking in Tasmania. I never got to "Tasie" as the Australians call it during my trip Down Under more than 20 years ago, but I always heard wonderful things about it. The place looked stunning, enjoying some of the cleanest air and water in the world, Bill informed us. He ate albacore, which I've never had, and apples, which he said are especially plentiful in Tasmania with many local varieties.

One dish looked especially good, quick and easy, Tuna with cherry tomatoes and penne pasta. I decided last week to give it a try.

The final verdict. Not bad, but it needs some work. He calls for a hot pan, leading me to crank the burner all the way up. I thought it was a little too hot and would put it at 8 instead of 10 next time. I would also consider mincing instead of slivering the garlic. It would better distribute the flavor and spar the diner biting into a large piece of garlic.

As usual, I cut the garlic in half, using one instead of two cloves. Obviously, this depends on your taste. I also used a quarter instead of a half cup of olive oil. I thought a half cup would make the dish too oily, although it did turn out a little dry. Next time, I'd add a little more.

The recipe does not mention seasoning the tuna. I would do that next time. The fish turned out well, but it really needed a little salt and pepper. I'd also consider adding a fifth or sixth anchovy. There was surprising little anchovy flavor in the final product.

I'd rate it a 6 or 7 out of 10. It definitely needed something. A little experimentation and this could be an excellent dish.

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