Bacon and Onion–Crusted Tuna

Ris Lacoste

1789 - Washington D.C.

Ris Lacoste, of Washington’s 1789, served this tuna on a bed of braised green lentils with haricots verts and oyster mushrooms. Be careful not to overcook the tuna.


Bacon and Onion Crust:

  • 3 onions, shaved with a mandoline or sliced paper thin, fried until crisp
  • 1/3 pound bacon, cooked until crisp and then drained
  • 4 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/3 bunch parsley, chopped
  • Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

Pinot Noir Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup bacon fat
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Port
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) Pinot Noir
  • Salt, pepper, and a dash of molasses


  • 6 tuna steaks, 7 ounces each, cut at least 1 inch thick
  • Buttermilk, as needed
  • Haricots verts, blanched, 9 per person
  • Tomato concassé, 3 tomatoes per person
  • Oyster mushrooms, left whole, 3 per person
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste


To make the crust, allow all of the ingredients to cool to room temperature. In a food processor, purée the bread crumbs until fine. Season with a little salt, but remember that the bacon adds salt. Add the bacon and onions, purée, and season with pepper and parsley.

To make the sauce, heat a 2-quart soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the bacon fat, and when the fat is hot, add the onions. Sauté them until they are soft. Add the celery and sauté a few minutes more until it is translucent. Add the garlic and cook only until the aroma of the garlic is apparent. Incorporate the peppers, and sauté until cooked. Add the tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and Port. Reduce this mixture to a glaze. Add the bottle of Pinot Noir, and reduce the sauce by half. Strain the sauce, and reduce further until the liquid is of sauce consistency. Taste the sauce for seasoning, and add salt and pepper and a dash of molasses, if necessary. You will have about 1 quart, which is more than you need, but it keeps well in the refrigerator.

To make the tuna, coat one side of each steak in buttermilk and then press firmly into the bacon-and-onion mixture to make an even crust. Season the other side of each steak with salt and pepper. Heat a 10- to 12-inch nonstick pan over very high heat. When the pan is very hot, put enough olive oil in it to coat the bottom. Sear each piece of fish 1 to 2 minutes on each side or longer, depending on the desired temperature and thickness of the tuna.

Meanwhile, in another, smaller, hot pan, heat more olive oil and brown the oyster mushrooms on all sides. Add the haricots verts and tomato concassé. Toss with the caramelized mushrooms and cook until warmed through. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.

To finish each plate, place a ladleful of warmed lentils (see headnote) in the center of the plate. Surround with red wine sauce and arrange, in a circle at each third of the plate (at noon, 4, and 8 o’clock, as if the plate were a clock), one oyster mushroom, 3 haricots verts and a bit of the tomato. Cut the tuna steak in half and place one half at an angle on top of the other, exposing the bright red center.


6 servings