Smoked Tuna Salad

Recipes | Salads | Smoking Serves 4 as an entrée Smoked Tuna Salad

Smoking was one of the earliest forms of food preservation. Today it’s used just to add flavour, and seafood isn’t smoked heavily enough to be preserved. It’s easy to smoke seafood at home in a kettle barbecue or over an old wok, but this recipe would still be delicious if you just seared the Tuna instead of smoking it.


2 teaspoons salt flakes 
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 x 400g piece sashimi-grade Tuna, 4cm thick (see notes)
½ punnet grape tomatoes, halved
100g pitted black olives
3 tablespoons finely sliced basil leaves
2 lemons, zested
Salt flakes, extra, to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Crusty bread, to serve

Smoking Mixture
½ cup unscented black tea 
½ cup raw white rice
½ cup white sugar
2 fresh bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme


Make Smoking Mixture: combine all ingredients. Completely line a thin metal wok with aluminium foil, extending 30-40cm over each side. Mound the smoking mixture in the centre of the wok, burying the bay leaves and thyme in the mixture. Place a wire cake rack into the wok, it’s important that it doesn’t touch the smoking mixture (if it does, use a wider cake rack or remove some of the mixture).

Combine salt and chilli and rub all over the fish. Place fish onto the cake rack and fold the foil up above the fish to form a ‘tent’, so that it isn’t pressed against the fish and smoke has room to circulate around the fish. Fold foil to seal as well as possible. Place the wok over a high heat until it starts smoking, usually 2-4 minutes, then reduce heat to medium and continue smoking for a further 10 minutes. Remove wok from heat, open the foil, remove fish and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, olives, most of the basil and most of the lemon zest, reserving a little basil and lemon zest for garnish.

Cut 4 x 2cm-wide slices from the thickest part of the Tuna (they should be rare in the centre) and set aside. Shred or dice remaining Tuna and mix with the tomato mixture. Add salt and most of the olive oil and mix well.

Place a mound of salad in the centre of a serving platter, or on 4 individual plates, and drape the Tuna slices over the top. Sprinkle reserved basil, lemon zest and salt flakes, over the Tuna, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and serve with crusty bread.


Remove the fish from the fridge 20-30 minutes before you cook it, to allow it to come to room temperature, this is particularly important if it is being served rare in the centre.

Sashimi-grade fish is normally sold trimmed, if it is not, trim off any skin and dark muscle before smoking it.

Alternative species:

Atlantic Salmon, Swordfish, Yellowtail Kingfish.

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