Medieval Andalusian Tuna and Pomelo Vinegar Dish

This extraordinary recipe from The Exile’s Cookbook is one of the few in the Arab culinary tradition that requires tuna — dried tuna, no less. But is doesn’t stop there; what makes it even more special is that it offers an opportuntiy to use the freshly made batch of that gorgeous pomelo vinegar.

The dish is called mushamma’ (مشمّع), which literally means ‘waxed’ (from sham’/شمع, ‘wax’), but in Andalusian Arabic was also used to refer to dried meat or fish. It couldn’t be simpler to make; the tuna is cut into strips and then fried in olive oil. When it is done, garlic is fried in the same oil before the tuna is returned to the pan to soak up the flavours of the garlic. Once that is done, it is time to serve with a sprinkling of the pomelo vinegar (though according to the recipe you can also use lime or sour grape vinegar). According to the recipe, one can also make a sauce with the vinegar and garlic and then drench the tuna with it, which is exactly what I did! A very unusual recipe and a must-try, if you ask me! The combination yields a very umami taste that is unlike anything I’ve ever had.

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