We are often told by nutritionists to eat more fish. According to them, I think this fresh Calabrian tuna recipe is just fine. I “fished” it from southern Italy traditions...

I still remember a short summer vacation in Cirò Marina, a small town along Calabria’s east coast, wet by the Ionian sea.

Were the beaches are pleasantly uncrowded with some historic sites to see.

At that time I was not married yet, but enjoying life with some good friends.   ;-)

At the local fish shop we had a chance to buy some fresh tuna steaks.

It was then I learned about tonno alla calabrese (tuna the Calabrian way)...

Calabrian Tuna Recipe


Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins

INGREDIENTS: Yield serves 2 or scale up as you need

  • about 1 lb. (450g) 2 steaks of fresh tuna
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp (15g) breadcrumbs
  • 7 oz (200g) whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • ¼ cup (60g) black pitted olives
  • ⅛ cup (30g) pickled capers
  • 3 basil leaves
  • red hot pepper
  • pinch of salt


  1. Put the 2 tuna steaks in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Moisten the tuna with olive oil on both sides and sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  2. Smash the whole peeled tomatoes in a small bowl and lay over the tuna steaks.
  3. Mince the black olives, capers and basil leaves. Pour all over the tuna with a trickle of olive oil.
  4. Bake in the oven at 350°F (180°C) for about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
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As I didn’t no much how to cook tuna, it was the fishmonger that told me how to: “I will tell you about this easy Calabrian recipe. You’ll need of course fresh tuna, and here you are well served. Whole tomatoes, capers, black olives, a few other things and that’s it. But don’t forget the peperoncino (hot red pepper) or you’ll miss its best taste”.

Ingredients for the recipe

I replied: Yes, yes we are in Calabria, aren’t we?

The region famous for its very hot dried peppers, that everyone knows about in Italy.

How could I miss them, as they are hanged almost everywhere here.   :-)

My friends, took the humor behind my words breaking into a deep laugh.

Instead, without care, the fishmonger kept chatting giving me extra instructions for the best cooking method too...

But he did recognize that we were just joking, and indeed we finely thanked him going back home to try the recipe.

I never had the chance to say at the fishmonger how good was the Calabrian tuna we ate that day, as we never went back to the fish market place.

So, my grateful for him now, is to publish this traditional recipe from Calabria.

Well, to make shorter a longer story here’s the recipe, as back then, we were all delighted by this tonno alla calabrese.

In conclusion, it’s time to make it. For me, you, the fishmonger, and last but not least the nutritionists too. We have to eat more fish. Don’t we?


Without saying that fresh tuna steaks are a must, so don’t cut on this edge with canned tuna.

You’ll be delighted by fresh as we were.

Tuna steaks


This recipe is easy as dicing a few basil leaves and olives.


In a small bowl, squash the whole plum tomatoes with a fork.


As the fishmonger told me: “Don’t forget peperoncino (hot red pepper), otherwise you’ll miss the best”.

Italian hot red pepper


Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 20 minutes.