Tuna in oil (tonno sott’olio) – Italian Cuisine

If you are lucky enough to come across a large quantity of fresh tuna (even 50 kilograms), then this is a great way to use it. You’ll have a long supply of preserved tuna, and the difference between this and what’s available in tins is like the comparison between fresh and tinned asparagus. It’s life changing!

blue or yellow-fin tuna, sliced into 10 cm chunks including skin and bones
good-quality light olive oil
garlic cloves, cut into slivers
bay leaves
lemons, sliced
red chillies, sliced

Cook’s notes
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need to begin this recipe 1 month ahead.

Weigh the tuna pieces and put into a large pot. For every 1 kg of fish, add 120 g of salt. Cover with water and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 hours over low heat. This is best done outside on a barbecue so the smell doesn’t take over the house.

Drain the cooked tuna pieces and lay on tea towels. Leave to dry and cool overnight.

The next morning, remove the skin and bones and break the fish into smaller pieces that will fit inside wide-necked jars. Pour a little oil into the base of your jars. Add the pieces of tuna and pack down firmly. Add a few slivers of garlic, slices of lemon, bay leaves and slices of chilli to each jar as desired. Cover the tuna with oil and put the lids on the jars.

To sterilise the jars, stand them in a large pot and fill with water to just beneath the lids. Boil for at least 30 minutes, then leave to cool in the water. Leave for at least 1 month before eating.

8 Responses to Tuna in oil (tonno sott’olio) – Italian Cuisine

  1. Renjith ranjelos

    Looks great…hellow which oil is that???

  2. Randal Oulton

    Botulism city. Don't imitate this. All fish must be pressure-canned. If you try this, you are playing for stakes far too high with the health of your friends and family. Follow instead the lab-tested procedures for home-canned tuna at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_05/tuna.html (And yes, people in Italy DO get botulism sadly from doing it the way shown: http://www.foodqualitynews.com/R-D/Foodborne-botulism-rates-in-Italy-and-US )

  3. Aml Sami

    for how many months can stay ?thanks

  4. 907Pike

    never waste the head, that goes in the pot, theres a layer of clear fat on the top of the head that flavors the meat

  5. M. Rakhangi


  6. Joe M Mams

    my mother did something similar,just better…

  7. pretty woman

    how long i can save tuna that made with water only without any oil?

  8. Chef Rafi's Awesome World

    Looks great. Just don't waste the meat of the head.

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