PORK CHOP W/ TUNA-SANDO SAUCE
MAKE THIS RECIPE RESPONSIBLY, OR NOT AT ALL
I haven’t eaten tuna for almost 10 years. Except one time in Hawaii when/where it was responsible. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or conveniently turning a blind eye, you should know exactly what I’m talking about.
It is estimated that by 2050, a large number of species of wild fish, tuna especially, will be gone. That statement was made more than a decade ago. It still stands. Are we better than locusts? The question is, are we worse?
So why am I, a hypocrite on all accounts, posting a recipe that involves tuna? Because I see it now no longer as a question. But instead, an opportunity.
I first came across the inspiration of a “tuna-sando sauce” from an espisode of Mind of A Chef on Gabrielle Hamilton, where she made the Italian dish maiale tonnato, thinly sliced pork served with a mayonnaise-based sauce flavored with canned tuna. I was instantly intrigued. It was one of those instances where, without actually tasting something, I felt certain about its sublimity, the velvety texture of a sauce that is the sum of all that is awesome about a tuna sandwich but minus the bread and the gritty mouth-feel, the silky-smooth grown-up twin of a childhood favorite, the 2.0 of that inexplicably enticing flavor that have satisfied all palates across the world. Plus served with pork? I knew it’d work. It’s genius. Especially, in my imagination, with a thick-cut slab of marbled pork chop that is deeply and glisteningly caramelized in browned butter infused with fresh bay leaves and garlics. I die.
So I spent two years, diligently, not making it.
After all, I’ve been celebrating my tuna-sobriety for a decade. Not even a piece of hard-core, fat-laden toro could break me let alone this soft porn. So I guess, that rounds us back again to why do it now. The answer is simple. Because I realized me not eating or writing about tuna is as helpful as a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy. The world simply doesn’t care that I quietly don’t eat tuna. Over the years, I still see tuna sashimi continuously flying off of the rack from my supermarkets. I still witnessed the rise of tuna poke-bowls walked through walls of social responsibility without a drop of effort or tear. I still have friends who, I’m not sure whether intentionally or helplessly, order tuna again and again at gatherings despite my rejection. I’d be lucky not to get a lecture from them let alone changing their minds.
I realized, thing is, no one can stop the world from eating tuna. The world does not deal in the absolute, but only in compromise. If anything, one can only possibly hope that it’s consumed responsibly.
So I’m taking this post as a chance to say this. If you cannot not eat tuna, at least, make sure that it’s from a sustainable source. And if you can’t be sure, then seriously, don’t do it. It’s just fucking tuna, not a limb or dick. It isn’t all that hard to cut loose.
I dragged for two weeks before posting this recipe, because even with all the precautions taken to buy the tuna from a sustainable source or to talk to you about it, this could still be considered, on some level, a promotion to eat tuna. And there’s no way for me to be sure that nobody who loves the idea of a sauce that tastes like tuna sandwich as much as me, wouldn’t just grab a dubiously sourced can from their local grocery stores. So if that happens, it’s on me. Yet, so what if I don’t post this? Just a bleep of silence, one less tuna recipe out of a million and that’s supposed to be heard, let alone make a change?
So I chose to post it. Not only it’s an opportunity to speak to those who come here to decide what’s for dinner, but also, as a member of the food-blog community which touches this subject all too rarely, it’s an opportunity to remind us all again that, not just our actions but more so, how our inactions matter. Maybe you’re a food-blogger like me who’s never posted a tuna-recipe before. Or, maybe you’ve posted recipes of tuna because it’s a popular ingredient, maybe you know about the issue of overfishing and maybe you choose not to mention it, either because it’s off-putting or that you’re scared it will give your readers an incentive not to share it, and maybe, that will hurt your traffic and followers, or maybe, you just don’t give a shit. We’ve all been there. We all still do it.
But our maybe’s are deadlier than a nuclear bomb. Because it will play a part in rendering the ocean fishless. You think North Korea is scary. We should see what’s on our plates.
Look, am I a hypocrite? Sure I am, I’m no vegan. But not being able to do 100% is no excuse to do zero. Even a hypocrite can do the right thing. Starting with, we should at least give a fuck.
This recipe is good. Really good. And if you have the faintest hope to enjoy it for years to come, make this recipe responsibly. Or not at all.
- one 200 grams canned tuna in oil, from a sustainable source or else forget it
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp store-bought mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp drained capers
- 1 small shallot, peeled and roughly cut
- 1 fillet of anchovy
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce, plus more to adjust
- 1/4 tsp light brown sugar
- two 2 1/2" (6 cm) thick-cut boneless pork chops
- sea salt and ground black pepper to season
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 fresh bay leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed
- marinated green olives to serve
- MAKE TUNA-SANDO SAUCE: Drain the oil from the canned tuna into a 1/2 cup measuring cup. You'll probably have about 2 tbsp of it, then add however much canola oil that's needed to make up to 1/4 cup, set aside. In a blender, add egg yolk, whole milk, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, white and black pepper. Close the lid and turn the blender on (use the low-speed setting if available). Through the feeding hole on the lid, slowly drizzle in the tuna oil into the blender to form an emulsion. The mixture will likely splatter through the feeding hole, so I like to hold a towel around it to keep it as contained as possible. Afterward, scrape down the sides of the blender. You'll have a mixture resembling a very loose mayonnaise.
- Now add the reserved tuna, store-bought mayonnaise, drained capers, shallot, anchovy, fish sauce and light brown sugar, and blend on high until the sauce is extremely smooth and silky. You can make the sauce ahead of time, kept in an air-tight container in the fridge. Before serving, I'd like to run it in the blender again to bring it back to room-temperature (friction creates heat).
- MAKE PORK CHOPS: With a sharp knife, split the pork chop horizontally right through the middle, leaving only a thin strip attached at the end so you can open it up like a book. Season sparingly with sea salt and black pepper, set aside.
- Heat a large, flat skillet (that will fit both pork chops comfortably) over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and 1/2 of the unsalted butter (the skillet should be hot enough that the butter sizzles immediately), then add the pork chops, and scatter the fresh bay leaves and garlics around. DO NOT MOVE THE PORK CHOPS, instead, swirl the skillet and move the bay leaves and garlics around to distribute the fat around the pork chops. When you see that the bay leaves and garlics have become crispy and browned, remove from the skillet and set aside. With a large spoon, periodically spoon the fat over the chops, and cook until the first side is deeply caramelized. Now turn the pork chops over, and add the rest of the unsalted butter. With the same motion, cook until the second side is deeply caramelzed as well. This should leave the center of the chops still slightly pink. Remove the pork chops from the skillet and let rest for 6 min.
- Serve the pork chops garnished with the crispy bay leaves and garlics, and a generous dousing of the tuna-sando sauce. I like to dust it with chili flakes as well. A few marinated green olives cuts through the richness nicely.
I used Marks & Spencer, certified sustainable canned tuna in oil.
I couldn't find a thick-cut pork chop that day so I used a pork-shoulder steak instead. Either one works, but the pork shoulder has more fat-marbles, which isn't a bad thing.
Debra | AzaharAugust 14, 2017 at 9:16 PM
This recipe does sound (and look) delicious! I have to admit, I only eat fresh tuna (never canned) – as there’s no possible comparison:) – and only when visiting my brother. He goes out fishing for tuna with friends during the season; thus, it’s always a sustainable and responsible way of catching and consuming this fish. Love reading you, as always! Debra xx
mindyAugust 15, 2017 at 5:12 PM
I read through this piece tonight, and in the end, I had the same reaction that i’ve had to everything you have done on this site–
i have said out loud, “that girl is BRILLIANT.”
p.s. and i just want to add, it’s one thing to have a palate, and the physical skills to cook, and quite another skill set to be able to WRITE,
with articulateness, economy and beauty.
YOU GO GIRL!!
(and I’m 66, so I have some perspective here!!!)
Ben SwanAugust 15, 2017 at 12:17 AM
Legend – so good to see this being discussed! Our oceans are being pillaged and ruined and people who make their livelihoods from it rarely discuss this. Worth publishing for the intro.
People need to stop eating Tuna – eat fresh mackerel instead!!!
KathleenAugust 15, 2017 at 12:41 AM
I totally get your intention. However, I think this post should have been written/organized differently. This post could have been really powerful in bringing tuna extinction aware to light.
To me, the general feel I get is that you’re giving up. You’re only “one out of a million” and since that “million” hasn’t changed, this is an acceptable reason to give in. And I know that’s not what you’re trying to convey at all (hopefully.)
I know that no one can be perfect. We can’t all be vegan, ride bicycles everywhere, etc. However, just taking a gradual step in the right direction in any means should be applauded. Instead of saying, “for the people unwillingly to give up or learn more, this is a naughty dish–just find sustainable means on your own,” I think it might have been better to say that, “Yes, sometimes it’s hard to given up so completely on something–but keep working at it! Allow yourself to have one meal out of the month/year, and make it bloody good so that you can fully appreciate this fish! Realize that this is what’s disappearing.. possibly forever.”
I myself have been struggling with changing my lifestyle to be more sustainable. And I don’t exactly know why I’m writing this comment so vehemently on your blog.. but I’m hoping that some of your readers will be able to read it and also bring this to further discussion. I also have a lot to learn about tuna sustainability. But this post didn’t encourage me to learn more.
mandy@ladyandpupsAugust 15, 2017 at 12:06 PM
Kathleen, maybe I wasn’t being eloquent but “for the people unwillingly to give up or learn more, this is a naughty dish–just find sustainable means on your own,” is nowhere in the message I want to convey.
Joyce @ The Sun DiariesAugust 15, 2017 at 4:38 AM
I’m really glad you wrote about this Mandy. Although I am generally aware of over fishing and avoid fishes like Chilean sea bass, tuna is so ubiquitous and common, and quite frankly, straight up boring – that I had no idea it was so unsustainable. Sometimes it takes a more aggressive or direct approach (dramatic videos of sad chickens squished cages, Al Gore documentaries, etc.) for the floating haze of something you know is not-quite-right to really crystallize into something that is definitively to be avoided. I don’t eat tuna that much but I’m pretty sure what I buy now is not necessarily sustainable, but will be from now on. So, you know. Sold at least one person.
ShannonAugust 15, 2017 at 9:35 AM
Thanks for posting this! This (and a lot of issues involving eating meat) are multifaceted and grey issues. I totally agree – one person not eating tuna isn’t going to change anything. Talking about the issues and encouraging people to buy ethically on the other hand has brought the issue into light. Even if people do just go and buy a can of tuna without checking the sustainability, they probably would have anyway, right? At least now, there is a conversation about it, and people can dwell on it and maybe do some more research and decide where they stand. So thank you! Even if you are a hypocrite, at least you are a thoughtful one. Engaging with the issue is better than avoiding it all together!
Also, pork with tuna? Genius!
AnnAugust 15, 2017 at 3:49 PM
I am a little behind with your posts and I wondered where do you live now.
I see you used Marks and Spencer’s sustainable tuna.
Are you in the U.K.?
Lovely dish by the way.
mandy@ladyandpupsAugust 15, 2017 at 7:55 PM
Ann, I’m in Hong Kong now :)
SabrinaAugust 18, 2017 at 10:50 AM
I love this dish!! We make vitello tonnato and occasionally pork tonnato at work. What a great spin!
george@icookstuffAugust 20, 2017 at 10:47 PM
Lady-girl, I love what you did here … finally someone else who understands that fishy flavours go well with pork (and other red meats, especially lamb) … even though they just stare in disbelief when you say/do it … ATTAGIRL/ATTALADY !
JimmyAugust 25, 2017 at 11:29 AM
Hell F-ing yes Mandy!
fadhil auliaAugust 30, 2017 at 10:48 AM
Wow it’s look so delicious
PetuniaSeptember 11, 2017 at 4:04 PM
Thanks for the beautiful recipe!
What beautiful cut of pork is this? I don’t recognize it
mandy@ladyandpupsSeptember 11, 2017 at 5:09 PM
Petunia, it’s a butterflied pork shoulder steak!
Sean MahanSeptember 11, 2017 at 10:54 PM
Wow, these pictures just made my mouth water. Looks so delicious! Thank you for posting it!
GoMoviesOctober 23, 2017 at 3:49 PM
Looks so delicious! I love this recipe!
Vertical garden plantersNovember 24, 2017 at 11:35 AM
I love this recipe!Looks so delicious!
puneetsharmaNovember 25, 2017 at 5:21 PM
SerbaherbalJanuary 10, 2018 at 5:20 PM
it looks so delicious, thanks for sharing
NinaJune 8, 2018 at 6:45 AM
This is by far my favorite pork chop recipe ever!! The tuna sauce & pork is really a match made in heaven.
UmamiMay 24, 2021 at 1:32 AM
Mandy, HELP!! I made too much sauce and accidentally and stupidly used canned tuna NOT IN OIL. Suggestion? Should we freeze them?
mandy@ladyandpupsMay 24, 2021 at 1:51 AM
Umami, not sure I understand. You added the water from the can in the sauce?