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Recipes from Sicily: Orange & Fennel Sicilian Tuna Ceviche

One morning while anchored up in a bay on the island of Vulcano, we were greeted by the sight of a fishing boat offering us to buy some fresh fish. "Pesce, Pesce, volete pesce?! Tonno! Dorado! Gamberi!"

Well, there's only one answer to that question. "Si, vogliamo pesce!" and so we bought a couple of tuna fillets and a kilo of red prawns.

Since it was freshly caught tuna we thought it would be a great opportunity to make ceviche, something you can only make with very fresh fish. Ceviche originates in Peru and so the recipes often involve the South American flavours of lime, avocado and coriander, none of which we had on board. So, I created this improvised, Italian-style recipe based on the ingredients we had on board and think it's an absolute cracker!

What could be more Sicilian than oranges and lemons? You find these fruits as motifs everywhere you go - from decorative Majolica tiles, to murals to fashion accessories!

So, when life gives you lemons and tuna... make this Ceviche!

Lemons in the Aeolian Islands
When life gives you lemons in the Aeolian Islands
Orange Motif in Taormina
Never enough oranges in Taormina
Lemons in Lipari Aeolian Island
Lemon Everything in Lipari, Aeolian Island


The orange lends sweetness, while the lemon helps boost the acidity to give a good cure to the fish. How long to leave the fish to cure is a question of taste. Some ceviche recipes call for merely minutes; in which case just the outside while have 'cooked', (gone white and opaque), leaving the centre raw and with a firmer texture. Or you can leave for around 30 mins to 'cook' all the way through, which is how I did mine. (Any longer and the fish starts to flake and disintegrate a bit too much).

Adding the thinly sliced fennel and red onion on top gives them a bit of a marinade too, but make sure the fish stays in contact with the citrus juice, which is why I suggest to add it on top while it's curing. You can them mix through before serving.

I served it over slices of orange and plenty of extra virgin olive oil to balance the acidity.

This would pair beautifully with Rosé, such as Planeta's Rosé Sicilia DOC. Buon appetite!

Planeta Rosé Sicilia DOC
Planeta Rosé Sicilia DOC


Fresh, 'sushi-grade' Tuna - a medium sized fillet.

4 oranges - (2 for serving, 2 for juicing)

2 lemons

Fresh basil, chopped

Fennel, thinly slices

Red onion, thinly sliced

Salt & Pepper

Extra virgin olive oil


- Grate some zest from one of the oranges and one of the lemons.

- Juice 2 oranges and 2 lemons.

- Chop the tuna into little chunks of roughly 1cm.

- In a bowl, cover the tuna with the fresh orange and lemon juice and mix with the basil, salt and pepper.

- Add the thinly sliced fennel and onion on top so they gets a bit of a marinade too. Leave to cure for 30 mins. (Adding the fennel and onion on top rather than mixing through means the fish stays in contact with the citrus juice).

- Slice the peel and pith off 2 of the oranges, and then slice relatively thickly, so you have some juicy slices of pith-free orange; arrange these on your two plates.

- Once the tuna has cured, spoon the citrusy tuna, fennel and onion mixture over the top of the oranges.

- Top with the zest, and generous drizzles of extra virgin olive oil to balance the acidity.


I have put together a special offer case of wines to pair with these three Sicilian recipes. Get hold of your case here!


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