Easy Oriental Part 12 – Baked Centrepiece Tuna for Six.

Baked Oriental Tuna (10 of 10)This post really is a triumph of form over function. I was in the fish shop last week and they had some whole (small) tuna on sale. I’ve never cooked a whole tuna before. I planned to smoke the fish but found that it wouldn’t fit into my smoker. So, instead of cutting off the head and tail, I decided it would photograph quite well and I could bake it in an oriental style. It proved to be very simple to prepare and delicious to eat. A worthy and impressive participant in the Easy Oriental series. This makes a great centrepiece, always useful when serving Oriental. 

Some authentic oriental looking ingredients.

Some authentic oriental looking ingredients.


  • One whole tuna about 2 kilo weight
  • 1 generous handful of spring onions
  • 12 or so dried Chinese mushrooms
  • 3 cm or 1 inch of ginger
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 hot red chilli
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli oil (1 for the fish, 1 for the noodles)
  • 1 tablespoon of rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 5 portions of dried noodles
The mushrooms need to be rehydrated. Do this first.

The mushrooms need to be rehydrated. Do this first. They take about 20 minutes.

Next, cut off the side fins and cut some diagonal slices into the flesh of the tuna.

Ouch, slicing the tuna feels a bit brutal, even though it's dead.

Ouch, slicing the tuna feels a bit brutal, even though it’s dead.

Slice the vegetables, mushrooms and lemongrass into 5cm (2 inch) pieces.

There's lots of slicing involved in oriental cookery. This simple dish is no exception.

There’s lots of slicing involved in oriental cookery. This simple dish is no exception.

Lay out some tinfoil and place a layer of lemongrass. Lay the fish on top. Stuff the exposed slits in the fish and also the cavity with more of the ingredients, like in the photo below. Pour on the chilli oil and the sesame oil. You will have plenty of onions and mushrooms left over.

A well stuffed oriental tuna. Drizzling the oil on top for a bit of heat.

A well stuffed oriental tuna. Drizzling the oil on top for a bit of heat.

Fold over the tinfoil to form a tent. Place it in a 200º C (400º F) oven for 20 minutes. Cook the noodles and reserve. Put some oil in the wok and fry the remaining ginger, spring onions and mushrooms, adding the rice wine as you go until the spring onions go a hot green colour.

I love the term "hot green'. It describes the spring onions very well.

I love the term “hot green’. It describes the spring onions very well.

Add the noodles to the wok and add the soy sauce and chilli oil. Heat through while turning the noodles. This exercise will rival half an hour bench pressing in the gym.

Stir those noodles. I don't care how heavy they are, they need stirring.

Stir those noodles. I don’t care how heavy they are, they need stirring.

Plate up the fish on a big serving dish, discarding the lemongrass but pouring the collected juices over the fish. It looks great (If you ignore the eyes and those sharp teeth)!

It's a bit of a show stopper when this gets placed on the table.

It’s a bit of a show stopper when this gets placed on the table.

Carefully fillet the fish and serve it and the other bits and pieces with the noodles.

Stylish and extremely tasty. The baked tuna is fantastic.

Stylish and extremely tasty. The baked tuna is fantastic. That chopstick rest really is bordering on the rude.

We served six with this lovely tuna. We all went back for more. Centrepiece tuna was a big success.

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  • Looks fabulous, though I have my doubts about that chopstick rest! Bet they don’t do a male version (and probably just as well).

    • I have a set of fish chopstick rests and also a set of small boys. I never looked on them in that light. I promise I never will.

  • Delicious – it looks quite ferocious when cooked 😉

    • It does. I suspect I would look a bit off if I had the same treatment.

      • You should see how the Chinese living fish (fried alive) looks – livid!

  • Nice dish! The fish looks like ‘bonito’ or Northern tuna as it’s called in Spain – a beautiful fish and extremely plentiful in Summer. Great on the BBQ, in a casserole, fried, baked and when you don’t know what else to do in fishballs or croquettes. I was at a cooking demo in the city market here in July and the massive bonito was given an oriental twist too with a bit of panko so you seem to be bang on trend 😀 http://www.eldiariomontanes.es/fotos/santander/201408/06/como-cocinar-bonito-3084150112190-mm.html

    • Being “bang on trend” comes as a shock to me. Those Bonito look delicious. Mine was a baby by comparison.

  • Looks great. What brand chili oil do you use, or do you make your own? And – where’s your fish shop? Haven’t seen any tuna around mine 🙁

    • Hi, I tend to buy whatever chili oil looks best in the Chinese supermarket. The quality varies quite a bit. The relationship between satisfactory heat and price is strong. I got that little beauty in George’s Fish Shop in Monkstown Farm. They have a branch in Monkstown village too.

  • Nice work indeed. Didn’t notice the chopstick rest until you mentioned it, but now I think I need it 🙂

  • I really wish I had better seafood choices. It’s not quite vanilla here but you certainly can’t get tuna like that.

    • They are rare here too. But, they are lovely when they are in.

  • This looks scrumptious! I agree with the bench pressing when stirring the noodles! They have a tendency to put on weight in the wok! Be well! ^..^

  • YUM!

    • Brief, but to the point. Yum indeed Erin.

  • Wow this is beautiful. I love your step by step photos. I have never actually seen a small tuna. I usually see the huge ones and they’re already cut up. What a brilliant recipe. I’ve always been a fan of your “easy oriental” series.

    • Thanks Amanda. My next one is written and will have a sad note to it. Posting in a week or two.

      • Looking forward to it. I hope not too sad.

  • Well done, Conor. I’d worry about overcooking the bonito, but it looks like you nailed it.

    • Thanks Stefan, It worked well and as only we both know, getting the ginger quantity right helps!

  • Another lovely dinner and another chuckle over the chopstick rests. Keep up the deliciously good food and humor! (Or shall I say “humour”?)

  • Absolutely enticingly lovely . . . . now take the next step and steam the fish you find, perhaps sans the shiitake! The most glorious food in the world!! Perhaps rice rather than hokkien . . . personal taste . . .

  • Hey, Conor–Looks great! I’ve only seen whole (small) here once, and I thought it was so beautiful I cooked it whole on our grill. I don’t know if they’re even legally available here. Nonetheless, your dish looks incredibly appealing. Hurray for noodles and other carbs with seafood, especially with hot green accompaniments. Ken

    • Thanks Ken. The noodles are a great colour for photographing with the fish. I do find that I need a lot of carb when I eat fish. Maybe it’s because I achieve a light delicate texture every time? Maybe not.

      • I’m certain the delicate texture must be it. 🙂

  • Very photogenic fish 😉 – dressed with all those vegetable it looks delicious!

    • Yes, the fish made it easy for me this time.

  • I love your assortment of veggies – especially adding the shitakes. I’ve never worked with fresh lemon grass, but I will because I’ve got 3 huge plants in the garden presently! Great meal!

    • Very jealous of you having fresh lemongrass. Our ‘fresh’ comes from the other side of the world.

  • I really don’t do enough baked/steamed fish; it really takes on the flavour of whatever you cook it in doesn’t it? Great addition to the mini-series Conor.

    • Thanks Phil, the fish does work as a carrier for the flavours. It’s a balancing act, to avoid overdoing it

  • The thing with whole cooked fish is the dead eye thing. I think I had a childhood trauma with a goldfish or something…

  • That looks fantastic Conor! I’ve never seen a whole tuna fish before. Well, I have, in Sicily, but they were HUGE! Too huge to bring a whole one home. Would love to try this recipe with a whole fish that I can bring home. 🙂

  • adore your plating, kniving and photography skills Conor!!!
    the whole baked fish really a show stopper for sure and you plate it beautifully,
    byw, you can try pampis recipe, an Indonesian stif fry grillied fish, suits a s a topping for noodle too

    • Thanks Dedy. No doubt, you cover it in hot chili!

  • I’ve never seen one of those smaller types of Tuna in any fishmongers here. I’m obviously going to the wrong ones. What kind of smoker is it you have? I got to play around with the big Smoky Mountain from weber a few weeks ago and has quickly been added it to my Christmas list.

    • Mine is a €40 job bought on fishingtackle.ie. If you search hot smoked salmon on the blog, it stars. Great value.

      • That is actually a great little yoke. Might pick one up for a little bit of winter smoking over the next few months.

  • Coming in a little late on this post but glad I did. My hub just returned from a fishing excursion in the Pacific Northwest and brought home 100 lbs. of albacore. We have managed to share quite a bit and now our freezer is full! I’m on the lookout for different ways to prepare it and this is a must try!

    • Excellent. Feel free to post some to Ireland !

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