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ONIONS What could you possibly write about onions? Well more than you might think.. They are so important and so simple, but they need to be done right. Like a good stock they are a building block and in this recipe they are not the foundation but the very structure. Cooking an onion so that it is a liquid solid is a craft of the highest order and takes practice, patience and concentration. It can achieve something that is so much more. Invest in a heat diffuser, fuck all the expensive equipment, this costs a couple of quid and you can cook things so slowly without fear of burning, it is a godsend.

One thing worth bearing in mind if you are going to take this Spanish food seriously is olive oil and reusing it. There are many dishes that require an almost confit type technique, but with olive oil. Fear not, these dishes can be drained, and the olive oil reused again and again, just keep tasting the oil and make a decision when its useful life has expired. It is purely a matter of taste.

Atun encebollada

Four ingredients:


Dried guindilla peppers

A good thick tuna steak


This is great example of less is more, it is a truly breathtakingly great dish, when done well.

It is all about the onions. Slice a mountain of onions, not finely, but not too crudely. Heat plenty of oil till hot, not quite smoking. Put the onions in and plenty of salt. De-seed your guindillas and cut up with scissors and add to the onions. Stir continually until it is well on its way and then turn right down, put the diffuser between flame and pan, if you have one, and carry on cooking. If it begins to catch add a little liquid, fino, white wine, water and using a wooden spoon rub away the affected area. Cook more, when you think it is done, cover and cook more. Then cook more. You should eventually be able to pick up a piece of onion and bite it but feel no texture at all. Liquid solid. The holy grail. Drain excess oil, keeping for another day.

Heat a heavy pan until a little oil is smoking. Season your tuna well and sear on both sides, add plenty of onion mixture and good splash of fino or manzanilla. Remove the tuna when cooked to your liking to a warm plate, reduce the onion mixture so the alcohol is cooked off and smoother the steak with this. Perhaps a little chopped parsley on top for some colour, but that is it. Heaven.

A good steak,liver or kidneys is great this way too.

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