Karen Martini's seared tuna with anchovies, celery and mint salad, and green chilli mayonnaise

This seared tuna is an elegant starter.
This seared tuna is an elegant starter. Photo: William Meppem

This dish is a little indulgent, very appealing to the eye, and absolutely ideal for entertaining. Searing the tuna in a very hot pan on one side only means you get the equally charming flavours of seared and raw tuna, while the jewel-like flesh looks dazzling under the celery and mint salad. Try this with simple boiled potatoes or chips and a leafy green salad.


1 celery heart with leaves

1 handful of mint leaves, torn

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra

1½ tbsp sherry vinegar

salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

600g piece of tuna, cut into 6 slices

6 quality anchovies in oil

6 pickled white anchovies

zest of ½ an orange 

For the green chilli mayo

150g thick mayonnaise

2 tbsp green Tabasco sauce

10 grinds of black pepper

1 green chilli, finely diced

juice of ½ a lemon


1. Pick the yellow and pale-green leaves from the celery. Slice the heart finely lengthways using a mandolin, then add to a bowl along with the celery leaves and mint. Add the oil and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.

2. For the mayonnaise, combine all ingredients well in a small bowl. Dollop half the mayonnaise evenly onto six plates, then spread out a little with a spoon.

3. Preheat a large frypan over a high flame for 4 minutes. Season the tuna slices with salt and pepper and coat with oil, then sear on one side for 2 minutes. Transfer directly to the plates and place on top of the sauce, seared side down.

4. Place one of each type of anchovy in a crisscross pattern on the tuna pieces, then dollop on more mayonnaise. Sprinkle orange zest on the top, then scatter over the celery salad, pouring on any extra dressing. Serve immediately.

Note: It's probably a given that using top-quality tuna is essential here – sashimi grade, ideally – but also make sure those anchovies are the best you can get. A small tin of the finest plump and pink specimens is what you need: those grey ones retrieved from the half-empty jar in the door of the fridge won't cut it.