Cafe Medina's Ras-el hanout-rubbed tuna with white bean salad

Use this warming North African spice blend in a variety of dishes, from robust tagines to simple couscous.

For most of us, we reach for the prepared Cajun or jerk spice blends when we cook with fish at home. Cafe Medina, one of the best places for brunch in Vancouver, wants to broaden your repertoire to include more flavours from the Mediterranean. In this recipe by chef Deniz Tarakcioglu, a ras el hanout spice blend, used commonly in Moroccan cuisine, is used to coat the tuna. Cafe Medina serves it for brunch but we like it any time of the day.

Tuna, beans and quinoa

1 cup tahini
1 clove garlic
2/5 cup lemon juice
1/5 cup water
2/5 cup olive oil
1 20-oz. piece Albacore tuna loin
3 tbsp ras el hanout spice mix
sea salt, to taste
3 cups cooked white navy beans
1 cup warm cooked quinoa
cilantro, for garnish
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish

In a food processor, combine tahini, garlic, lemon juice and water.  

Slowly add the olive oil while the machine is running. This sauce will split if olive oil is added too fast. 

Dress beans with tahini mixture.

Portion your tuna to 4-oz. pieces and liberally sprinkle with spice mix and sea salt.  

In a hot pan over high heat, sear for 1 minute on each side, or until the center of the tuna reaches 120 F. 

Slice with a sharp knife. 

To serve, make a bed of beans on a plate, then sprinkle quinoa on top. Place tuna slices and garnish with cilantro and lemon. 

Ras el hanout spice mix

1 cup cumin seeds
1 cup coriander seeds
1/2 cup fennel seeds
3 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 pinch saffron, optional

In an oven preheated to 350 F or a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin, coriander and fennel seeds until fragrant, being careful not to burn them.

Grind toasted spices in a spice grinder to the coarseness level of liking.  

Mix in turmeric, cinnamon and saffron while toasted seeds are warm.