Tuna with Red Pepper Sauce

4.84 from 6 votes
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Tuna with red pepper sauce and potatoes
Photos by Holly A. Heyser

Late summer is tuna time, and it also happens to be the time when all my various peppers are ripe. Combining the two is a no-brainer: Tuna and red peppers are a common combination in Spain.

The origin of this recipe is from the late Penelope Casas’ Delicioso! The Regional Cooking of Spain, which is my go-to cookbook for Spanish food. Casas found the dish in Spain’s Canary Islands, which are known for their tuna fishing, and for their little potatoes. This recipe combines them.

You don’t think about fish when you eat this dish. The tuna, seared hard and simmered until cooked through, takes on a character similar to long-simmered beef — although this recipe barely takes 30 minutes to make.

The sauce is the star, however. It hinges on roasted red peppers and features lots of paprika, garlic and fresh chopped herbs. It is one of my favorite ways to cook tuna, and works really well with all firm, oily fish, from the yellowfin and bigeye down to the little bonito.

Bonito is a term for several related small members of the tuna family, all with very dark meat — it is as burgundy as venison — and is closer in flavor to mackerel than its larger tuna cousins. Bonito are generally unloved in the United States but enjoyed in the Spanish-speaking world. I like them a lot, once you cut out the extremely dark “blood line” that runs down the center of each fillet.

This recipe is easy and fast enough to serve on a weeknight, but if you cut the tuna into nice squares, you can stick a toothpick in each piece and serve them on a tray as a party appetizer. The dish is almost as good at room temperature, which makes things even easier come party time.

tuna red pepper sauce
4.84 from 6 votes

Tuna with Red Pepper Sauce

Use any fresh tuna with this recipe, or you could use yellowtail, amberjack, Spanish mackerel or king mackerel. If you are inland, sturgeon, paddlefish or even catfish. Really any firm fish you can cut into squares will work. Serve this roasted fingerling potatoes and a green salad, or with a Spanish style rice.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Spanish
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes


  • 2 pounds bonito, tuna, jack or Spanish mackerel
  • Salt
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 whole roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 6 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons white wine or sherry vinegar
  • Black pepper


  • Slice the bonito or tuna into chunks about 2 inches across. Be sure cut out the "blood line," the extremely dark band of meat running along the midline of each fillet; it is very, very strong-tasting. Toss the tuna chunks in a large bowl with some salt to coat and set aside.
  • Make the sauce by putting everything but the olive oil in a food processor or blender and buzzing it to combine. With the motor running, drizzle in all but about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
  • Get a large saute pan hot and add the remaining olive oil. Heat this for a minute or so, but don't let it smoke. Pat the tuna chunks dry with paper towels and sear them hard and fast over high heat in the pan. You will want at least two of the four sides of each chunk to get a good sear. Take your time and do not crowd the pan -- place each chunk down by hand, otherwise they will all stick in a clump if you dump them in at once. You will know when to turn the fish when you can lift up most of each chunk with tongs. Try not to scrape the bottom of the saute pan with a spatula, as this defeats the purpose of getting a good sear on the fish. It could take a good 3 to 5 minutes to get this sear, depending on how big the chunks are and how hot the pan is.
  • When the fish has been nicely seared off, pour in the sauce and toss to coat the fish. Turn the heat down to medium and let this simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and black pepper to taste and serve hot or at room temperature, with fingerling potatoes, rice or crusty bread.


Calories: 605kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 54g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 476mg | Potassium: 751mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 6476IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!


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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Have made this several times with tuna. Always good. I like it with potatoes.
    It’s also good with rabbit or chicken.

  2. Neither my wife nor I can eat peppers, so we substituted onions. We used vermouth instead of white wine, and we should have used wine. The sauce was a little bitter, but the dish was great! The bitterness was our fault, not yours Hank. Keep the recipes coming, we love them!

  3. Came out quite nicely; reminiscent of a typical romesco sauce sans the addition of nuts. Quite tasty. Thanks for the recipe and the tip about the dark red spine of flesh.

  4. I made this last night & it was a HIT.

    Mr. Shaw is 100% spot-on w/ his comment, “You don’t think about fish when you eat this dish. The tuna, seared hard and simmered until cooked through, takes on a character similar to long-simmered beef — although this recipe barely takes 30 minutes to make. The sauce is the star, however.”

    I broke up w/ grains, so The Hubbs enjoyed the Spanish rice. I was too lazy to include a salad, bread (broke up w/ that, too), or fingerling potatoes.

    Truly, the fish & rice easily stand on their own for a mouth-watering meal.

    I wish I could post a photo. What I made looks just about identical to your photo. It gives adventuresome chefs the courage to make something new & feel confident about the outcome.

    Thank you for the recipe; it’s a true keeper.

  5. Oh…Em…Gee! This looks amazing -and- I *just* sliced, blanched, and froze about 10 pounds of red and yellow bells and giant marconis YESTERDAY! *shakes fist in air* I did leave a few yellow bells for fresh eating because I *was* going to make stir fry…but I may have to change those plans 😉 Now I have a second idea to preserve sweet peppers for next year: Roast and then freeze.