Canned tuna gets a big boost from a combo of fresh fennel and piquant preserved lemons. Their flavor is a cross between briny olives, sweet and tart lemons. Preserved lemons can take a long time to cure, but there are quicker ways of making them.
Fennel, a vegetable that looks something like celery but with a fat bulb on the bottom is also called anise, due to its mild licorice-like taste. Trim the bulb from the stalks. The stalks can be used in soups or even as a bed for steaming fish, but otherwise, they are too tough to eat. If the bulb has a thick outer layer, remove and discard it. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and remove the core. Then cut the fennel into small bite-size bits.
Now put them all together with the tuna and a little mayo and serve on ciabatta or crisp baguettes.
Quick Preserved Lemons
3 large organic lemons, washed
2/3 cup coarse (kosher) salt
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1. Cut a small slice from the stem and blossom end of the lemons. Stand the lemons upright and from the top, without going through the bottom, cut into eight wedges. Open them up like a flower and sprinkle the salt over. Place in a freezer bag or in an airtight freezer proof container, and add the bay leaves, coriander, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Seal and freeze for 3 days, turning twice a day.
2. Remove from the freezer, thaw at room temperature and transfer the lemons and all the juices and spices to a refrigerator container or mason jar. Refrigerate for up to a year.
3. To use, remove a wedge, rinse under water, and scrape away the flesh. Slice or dice the rind.
Tuna Sandwich with Fennel and Preserved Lemon
Makes 2 sandwiches
1/4 cup mayo
1/3 cup small dice fresh fennel
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon small dice preserved lemon rind
1 can (5 1/2 ounces) albacore tuna packed in water and drained
coarse salt, optional
2 ciabatta, split
1 small Persian or kirby cucumber, ends trimmed and thinly sliced
1. In a large bowl stir together the mayo, fennel, dill, preserved lemon rind, and cayenne. Add the tuna and season with salt if desired.
2. Spread the mixture onto the ciabatta, top with cucumber slices, close the sandwiches and serve.