Tuna Belly with Fennel + Pancetta



¼ cup pancetta, diced and rendered
2 Japanese eggplant
1 egg
½ cup milk
1 cup instant potato buds
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounce fatty tuna belly
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 head fennel
1 blood orange, zest only
¼ bunch parsley, chopped
1 pomegranate, seeded
¼ red wine vinegar
Freshly cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses


Add pancetta to a hot pan and cook until fat has rendered. Add liquid fat to a separate pan off the heat.


Slice eggplant about a half inch thick on the bias. Salt eggplant pieces.


In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg and milk together. In a separate shallow bowl, add the instant potato buds. Dip the eggplant pieces into the egg and milk mixture, the dredge in the instant potato buds.


Add about 4 tablespoons olive oil to a sauté pan on low-medium heat. Drop the coated eggplant in the pan. Flip once the potato buds have become crisp and golden brown on one side. Continue on the other side. Once cooked through and golden brown on both sides, remove from heat and set aside.


Add the pan with pancetta fat to medium heat. Season the tuna belly with salt and freshly cracked black pepper on both sides. Add the tuna to the heated pancetta fat and baste the fish with the fat as it cooks. Once just about cooked, 3 to 5 minutes, flip and cook for 30 seconds on the other side.


Remove the fronds from the fennel bulb and set aside. Slice the bulb across the core to halve the fennel. Using a mandolin, shave the fennel to create a salad. Add chopped fennel fronds, salt, olive oil, orange zest, parsley, pomegranate, red wine vinegar and freshly cracked black pepper.


In a small mixing bowl, add about 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses, 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar and another couple tablespoons olive oil. Whisk until well incorporated.


Cut the tuna across the grain into strips. Plate the eggplant and top with sliced tuna, then plate the fennel salad on the side. Add fennel fronds, vinaigrette and crispy pancetta to serve.

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Taking Requests

Tuna Belly with Fennel + Pancetta

Mario cooks a delicious secondo of seared tuna belly with fennel salad, Japanese eggplant, crispy pancetta and pomegranates, based on ingredients suggested by Nina from California.  “Taking Requests” brings Mario’s culinary wizardry to the foods you love.  Let Mario know what your four favorite ingredients are and he might whip up a custom recipe just for you!!

Thanks to our delicious partners at Eataly for making Taking Requests possible and for always providing the best ingredients!


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