A Strange--and Wonderful--Pastrami


Here’s one pastrami you’ve never seen at a Hollywood Bowl picnic or Labor Day barbecue--at least until now.

Tuna pastrami, a clever takeoff on beef pastrami, was created by Michael Roberts, executive chef at Trumps, for a Cancer Society lunch.

“I love deli food and decided on a pastrami made with tuna, not only because fish is lighter and more healthful than beef for those who have to watch fat and cholesterol, but also because I wanted to prove you can make ‘pastrami’ without chemicals or salt,” said Roberts. (Webster defines pastrami as dried or highly spiced smoked meat.)


In Robert’s recipe, tuna is marinated several hours in a seeded crust of garlic and crushed coriander seeds, but takes only eight minutes on a covered grill to smoke. “You don’t want to cook it to death. Just enough to cook it pinkish inside and crusty outside,” said Roberts.

Paper-thin slices of the crusty, seared tuna are served on rounds of toasted onion rye with a dab of Champagne Mustard. At Trumps, the open face sandwich ($8) is served as an appetizer or luncheon entree. A glass of California Chardonnay served with the sandwich adds a perfect note to the meal. And for dessert, how about flourless chocolate cake?


4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (2-pound) fresh tuna fillet

1/2 cup ground coriander seeds

1/2 cup black peppercorns, freshly ground

Toasted onion rye bread slices

Champagne Mustard

Rub garlic over entire surface of tuna fillet. Combine coriander seeds and black pepper. Evenly coat tuna with coriander mixture to form thin crust all over tuna.

Place on smoker grill over low coals, cover and smoke until inside is rare and 1/4 of outer portion is done, about 5 to 8 minutes or to desired doneness. Cook longer if too rare, but do not overcook or tuna will toughen. Cool, then chill.

To serve, spread toasted onion rye bread slices with Champagne Mustard. Thinly slice tuna and place over toast slices to serve as knife and fork open-face sandwich. Or serve tuna, toast and mustard separately and let guests serve themselves. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Champagne Mustard

2/3 cup Champagne vinegar

2/3 cup dry mustard

3 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

Combine vinegar and mustard. Beat eggs and sugar. Add eggs and sugar mixture to mustard mixture in top of double boiler over boiling water, stirring until thick. Refrigerate. Makes 2 1/2 cups.