Tuna with Basil Sauce and Avocado Risotto

There’s a lot going on in the name of this recipe, don’t you think? Indeed, now it’s written down seeing the words Tuna, Basil and Avocado in the same sentence does feel a little strange. Indiviudally they’re all lovely things but not something you’d ordinarily see so close together. Turns out that they are indeed very good companions and this recipe pulls them together perfectly. If you’re not convinced then you’re just going to have to trust me…

Before going any further I should start by admitting that this flavour combination isn’t something I came up with. Rather you can thank a rather lovely sushi restaurant in Mallorca for the original inspiration. Needing a break from the “chips with everything” trap that you can sometimes fall into around the Mediterranean I don’t think either of us had particularly high hopes. We couldn’t have been proven more wrong.

The service was wonderful and the view of the setting sun across the bay was the perfect end to our holiday. We chose the wine but decided to leave the rest of dinner to chance and went for a Chef’s Selection board of sushi. The waiter explained that they like to experiment with different flavour combinations depending on what ingredients they have available. I have a lot of respect for that approach and was sold on the idea without any further questions. Plus it saved us having to put in any effort at all!

Everything that arrived was wonderful and nothing on the platter was a disappointment. I can’t tell you what we actually ate, as I’m certainly not the sort of person who takes notes or photographs when eating out. There are plenty of people who do that already and I can’t say it’s something I’d ever encourage. Anyway, although I don’t remember much of our meal (apart from some lovely tempura salmon) there was one thing that truly stood out.

Tuna Maki. Something normally so simple was made delicious thanks to a generous dollop of a verdant basil sauce. The flavours were just perfect – both bold and delicate at the same time. The tender tuna and avocado in the middle of the roll were brought alive by that sauce and a thin slice of charred tuna on the outside. It was so good I knew straight away that I needed to recreate it when I got home.

So, here we are… Tuna with a Basil Sauce, served on an Avocado Risotto. A dish that brings together the flavours of that Sushi but makes them into a whole meal.

The creaminess of the avocado is still there in the risotto. I admit I had some doubts about whether avocado would work here, but it really does. The texture enhances the natural creaminess of the rice, with the delicate flavour still coming through in every mouthful.

The tuna steak is seared until charred on the outside but still pink within. Getting sushi-grade tuna isn’t easy in Dorset, so some cooking was definitely needed. Though this method does combine the textures of raw and crisp to some extent, so it’s not that much of a trade-off. Of course, if you’d rather cook your tuna through then that’s up to you.

Two lovely components that would be nice on their own. But it’s the simple basil sauce that really unites this dish and makes it something special. It’s rich and punchy, so you don’t need much on each plate, yet it’s essential to making everything truly come together. The fact that it makes it look so appetising is a bonus.

I do love it when little moments on holiday turn into lovely memories like this. Don’t you?

Tuna with Basil Sauce and Avocado Risotto

A proper example of fusion cuisine… This delicious Italian-style risotto was inspired by some rather wonderful Sushi we had on holiday in Spain. On paper it shouldn't work, but trust me when I say this tastes absolutely divine!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Fish, Fusion, Rice
Servings: 2
Calories: 808kcal


For the Basil Sauce

  • 20 g Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 50 ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Pinch Sea Salt
  • Pinch Freshly Ground Black Pepper

For the Avocado Risotto

  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 clove Garlic peeled and crushed
  • 150 g Arborio Rice
  • 100 ml Vermouth or Dry White Wine
  • 500 ml Good Quality Fish Stock kept warm
  • 1 Lemon juice and zest
  • 25 g Parmesan Cheese grated
  • 1 Avocado mashed

For the Tuna Steaks

  • 2 Tuna Steaks
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil


Make the Basil Sauce

  • Put all of the sauce ingredients into the small bowl of a food processor and mix until you have a smooth consistency. Pour into a bowl, cover and put to one side until needed.

Make the Avocado Risotto

  • Heat a good sized, deep frying pan or heavy saucepan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil, followed by the onion and sauté for 10-15 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Stir frequently as you don’t want the onion to burn.
  • Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to ensure that the garlic is cooked through but doesn’t burn. Remove the onion mixture from the pan and put to one side. Leave as much residual oil in the pan as possible – if you can’t see any oil in the pan you may need to add a little more.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high and add in the rice. Stir it in the oil until it’s well coated and the ends of each grain have gone slightly translucent. Pour in the vermouth, or wine – it will bubble vigorously but you want to keep stirring the rice constantly until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  • Add a generous ladle of the stock to the pan, whilst continuing to stir the rice frequently as it absorbs the liquid. When almost all of the stock has been absorbed add another ladle to the pan, and so on. You may not need all of the stock – so proceed with caution to avoid making the risotto too wet. It should take around 18 minutes for the rice to be cooked through
  • When the rice is cooked – tender but still retaining a little bite – return the onion mixture to the pan, along with the lemon zest. When heated through remove the pan from the heat and stir through the grated parmesan and mashed avocado.

Cook the Tuna

  • The Tuna Steaks should be cooked whilst the risotto is cooking. Heat a large heavy pan over a medium-high heat.
  • Brush the tuna steaks with the olive oil, then carefully lower into the pan. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the surface of the fish is browned but the middle of each steak remains pink.
  • Remove from the pan and cut into thick sliced.


  • Divide the risotto between two plates, then top with the slices of tuna and drizzle over the basil sauce. Serve immediately.


Estimated Values per Serving
of which Saturates7g
of which Sugars6g
Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.

Scott Silverthorn

Hi, I’m Scott. I love cooking food and I love eating it - both useful credentials for writing a food blog! I get a lot of joy from sharing my passion with my friends and family, so here's hoping you enjoy it too.

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