Capers (Recipe: grilled tuna sandwiches with tartar sauce)
True confession: I don't love capers all that much.
More than once, the long-stemmed giant caper berries from The Gourmet Outlet, so beautiful on an antipasto platter, have tempted me. More than once, a tin of medium-sized salt-packed capers from France has leapt off the gourmet shop shelf and into my cart.
The fancier the capers, the more I've wanted to love them.
I've tried, really. More than once.
Nevertheless, there's always a jar of capers, from the supermarket or local Italian market, in the door of my refrigerator. Some dishes just need the flavor of capers, and nothing else will do.
What are capers?
The unopened buds of a bush native to the Mediterranean region; the buds are harvested in the morning, and always brined in vinegar or packed in salt, and they have a strong, floral, lemon flavor. (You can substitute preserved lemons in many dishes calling for capers.)
How/where to store:
In the cupboard; if the capers are in a glass jar, store in the refrigerator after opening. Be sure to keep brined capers covered with the brine; don't let them dry out.
More facts about capers, and ingredient photos, in The Perfect Pantry:
Capers (Recipe: roast halibut with orange-caper gremolata)
Grilled tuna sandwiches with tartar sauce
An all-purpose tartar sauce with the fresh taste of lemon and capers will liven up almost any grilled fish: swordfish, salmon, cod, or whatever looks best at the market. Double the recipe, and keep some on hand for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Serves 4.
For the tartar sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip)
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1-1/4 tsp capers, drained
3 gherkin pickles
3/4 tsp dried dill weed
Juice of 1/2 lemon, or more to taste
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
4 4-oz pieces fresh tuna steak (or swordfish, or salmon)
1 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
4 hamburger buns
Combine tartar sauce ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until the pickles and capers are chopped and everything is combined. Taste, and adjust seasoning with more lemon juice, salt and pepper, as needed. (Can be made hours or days ahead. Refrigerate until ready to use.)
Preheat grill, grill pan or broiler to high heat. Take the fish out of the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature while the grill is heating.
Cut the tuna to make four portions. Brush each piece with olive oil, and sprinkle on both sides with salt and pepper.
The fish should cook 10 minutes for each inch of thickness. If your fish is one inch thick, cook for 5 minutes per side. If it's half an inch thick, cook for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side.
Other recipes that use capers:
Grilled chicken with lemon, capers and oregano, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Pork medallions with mustard-caper sauce, from Simply Recipes
Lemony egg salad with basil and capers, from Not Eating Out in New York
Carrots with capers, from Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska
Pasta with chicken sausage, tomatoes, olives, and other good stuff, from Al Dente