Carpaccio of Sichuan crusted Tuna with pickled cucumber

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This is a dish I love to cook at home, the flavours of China with a western touch.
Carpaccio is a term used to describe thin slices of raw meat or fish. It is Italian in origin and is usually finished with olive oil and lemon juice, but in this recipe I have given it a Chinese theme with the cucumber and Sichuan peppercorns. Sichuan peppercorns are one of Chinas oldest spices and are renowned for their numbing effect on the lips and tongue; they were widely used in China, especially the Sichuan Provence, along with white peppercorns for their heat, before chillies were introduced in the 16th century.
 This really is a simple dish to make and delicious for a first course at a dinner party.
The cucumber will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks if well covered.


1 x 300g piece of tuna
2tblsp Sichuan peppercorns
2tsp sea salt                                  
3 cucumbers cut into batons                              
50ml sunflower oil                                                     
1tsp Sichuan peppercorns                                
2 small dried chillies                                         
50g palm sugar                                                 
50ml rice wine vinegar                                  
25ml light soy sauce                                           
1 piece of ginger, peeled and grated                 

For the tuna; 

Place the peppercorns and the salt onto a tray and roast for 5mins at 180c or until fragrant, remove from the oven and grind to a fine powder. Cover the tuna in the ground spices and roll in cling film, place in the fridge for a couple of hours.

For the cucumber; 

Heat the oil in a wok until almost smoking. Add the peppercorns and dried chillies and cook for 15-20 seconds, working very quickly add the sugar and allow to melt, pour in the vinegar, soy and ginger and bring to the boil, simmer for 2mins then remove from the heat. Toss the cucumbers in the pickling mixture and place in sterilised jars. It is best to let the cucumber sit for a couple of days for maximum flavour.

To complete the dish; 

Remove the tuna from the cling film and in a hot pan sear on all sides leaving the tuna very rare in the centre. Remove from the pan and allow to rest for a couple of minutes. Slice the tuna into thin slices and place in the centre of a serving plate, arrange cucumber on top and garnish with fresh coriander, pour a little of the juice from the cucumber around the plate and serve.
Served with a dressed salad the tuna makes an ideal light lunch.

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