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Spicy Tuna Rillettes

Rillettes is a traditional spread made from meat, poultry or fish that has been slowly cooked with fat, then pulverized and packed into a crock or ramekin. This is a twist on that classic. Pascal Rigo likes to drizzle it with pepper-infused olive oil just before serving.

Plus: More Appetizer Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: Makes 2 1/2 cups

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  • 3/4 pound fatty tuna belly
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 10 brined green peppercorns, drained and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Crackers or toasts, for serving


  1. Fit a medium pot with a steamer insert. Add 1 inch of water to the pot and bring it to a boil. Add the tuna and steam until cooked through, about 8 minutes. Let cool. Flake the tuna into a medium bowl; don't remove the fat. Gently stir in the cilantro, scallions, butter, green peppercorns, lemon juice and cayenne.
  2. In a small bowl, beat the cream until stiff. Fold the cream into the tuna and season with salt. Transfer to a crock and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled with crackers.

Make Ahead

The tuna rillettes can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

Suggested Pairing

This spicy dish finds its match in a broad-flavored California Chardonnay.

Contributed By Photo © John Kernick Published April 2004

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