Lunch with a difference

Neil Perry
Spice-crusted tuna, tomato and butter bean salad.
Spice-crusted tuna, tomato and butter bean salad. Photo: William Meppem


1/2 tbsp whole white peppercorns

2 tsp fennel seeds

pinch coriander seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp sea salt

500g sashimi-grade tuna loin, skin and blood line removed

2 handfuls baby rocket leaves

60g butter beans, sliced on diagonal, blanched and refreshed


1/4 cup drained semi-dried tomatoes

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Preserved lemon dressing

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tsp preserved lemon rind, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Serves 4

Toast spices in a dry frying pan until fragrant, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Grind sea salt with spices in mortar and pestle to form a coarse powder.

Cut tuna in half lengthways and roll each piece in spice mixture until evenly coated. Sear tuna on a well-heated, oiled frying pan over high heat until it has cooked 5-6mm of the way up on each side. Allow to cool, and then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground make salad, place rocket leaves, beans and tomatoes in small bowl. Add enough preserved lemon dressing to just coat.

Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Arrange salad on plate and top with tuna slices. Drizzle tuna with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and white pepper. Serve immediately.



1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthways, seeds removed

750ml single cream

3 tsp vanilla extract

5 lemongrass stalks, white parts only,

thinly sliced

330g caster sugar

270ml water

12 egg yolks

Pineapple salsa

400g pineapple flesh, cut to 1cm dice (1 small pineapple or 1/2 medium)

juice of 2 large oranges

small pinch freshly ground white pepper

1 tsp pink peppercorns, lightly crushed

Serves 6-8

In a small saucepan, put vanilla seeds into the cream along with vanilla extract and lemongrass. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, then remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl and when cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over a low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat until syrup registers 105°C on a sugar thermometer.

Meanwhile, Whisk egg yolks on medium speed in a mixer. Pour hot syrup slowly down the inside of the bowl, whisking all the time. Continue to whisk until cool.

Strain solids out of the cream mixture and discard. Whisk the cream to soft peaks. Once the egg yolk mix is cool, fold in cream. Pour into a loaf tin lined with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours (but preferably overnight).

For salsa, heat a saucepan over high heat and add pineapple. Sear for about 1 minute, or until pieces start to caramelise. Reduce heat to medium, add orange juice and white pepper, and cook for a few minutes, or until the pineapple is tender. Remove from heat and add pink peppercorns.

To serve, dip loaf tin into hot water for a few seconds, place a chopping board on top, and flip over. Cut into thick slices with a hot knife, and place on serving plates. Top with a few spoonfuls of salsa.


• Prawns, salmon and ocean trout are all great in this salad. It also works with chicken, quail or pork - just change cooking times to make sure they are cooked all the way through.

• Toasting the spices for the crust brings out the essential oils and makes a huge difference to the flavour.

• Remember to start the parfait recipe at least a day - preferably two - ahead of serving time.

• The salsa can of course be made using any seasonal fruit. At this time of year, stone fruit and berries are rocking.

• If the parfait doesn't loosen when serving, try rubbing a hot cloth on the base of the loaf tin.


 Chilled rose
Capturing the finesse of the Adelaide Hills, the 2011 La Línea Tempranillo Rosé ($21) delivers aromatics of redcurrant, cranberry and red liquorice. With a dry, refreshing palate, it’s ideal paired with the spice-crusted tuna salad.

Photography by William Meppem. Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.