Conserved tuna

TIP: Control the temperature. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Total time: 25 minutes, plus cooling time

Servings: Makes about 1 pound, or 2 cups flaked

1 pound fresh tuna (albacore or yellowfin), cut 1 to 2 inches thick

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons sliced garlic

Freshly ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 piece lemon peel (about 3/4 inch by 2 inches)

1 cup olive oil, plus more if necessary

1. Trim any skin, bones or dark blood spots from the tuna and discard. Cut the tuna into large cubes (at least 1 inch) and place them in a 1-quart saucepan. Add the salt, red pepper flakes, garlic and a pinch of black pepper and stir gently to distribute seasonings evenly. Arrange the tuna snugly in the pan so you won't need to use too much additional oil. Add the bay leaf and lemon peel and pour over enough olive oil to just barely cover the fish. It will be about 1 cup, though you may need a little more for topping off.

2. Place the saucepan over very low heat and cook until the tuna just begins to flake, about 15 minutes. The oil may get hot enough that a few bubbles rise from the bottom, but it should not simmer. The top temperature shouldn't exceed 160 degrees.

3. Cool the tuna to warm room temperature in the oil before transferring to a container for storage in the refrigerator. If you're going to use the tuna the same day, refrigeration is not necessary. The tuna will keep, tightly sealed and refrigerated, for at least a week, but not more than 10 days. Warm to room temperature before using.

Each quarter-cup serving: 125 calories; 13 grams protein; 1 gram carbohydrate; 0 fiber; 7 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 26 mg. cholesterol; 312 mg. sodium.