Muxama de Atum (smoked tuna loin) is a traditional starter made with the same recipe used by the Phoenicians and Romans 2000 years ago. It is a kind of salted and dried tuna loins.
This product was selected one of the 70 Wonders of Portuguese Gastronomy.
Tuna fish muxama is a Portuguese gastronomic treat, served mostly in the Algarve, which recipe origins go back to the Arab occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, That's why Muxama or Mojama is a typical delicacy of the south region of the Iberian Peninsula,
The Arabs developed this salt curing technique and the term muxama comes from the Arab word musama which means “dry”. However, Phoenicians and Romans also used a similar process to preserve the fish caught until the return of the fishing boats ashore.
Nowadays, in Portugal muxama is produced only in the Algarve regon, following a technique used for more than 2000 years almost unchanged.
To produce this delicacy, the noblest parts of tuna, the loins, are carefully chosen, cleaned, stacked and smothered in sea salt for 24 hours. Then they are washed with fresh running water and placed to dry under relative humidity and temperature-controlled conditions. After 10 or 12 days, depending on the size of the loins, the muxama is ready to serve.
In ancient times, the loins stayed in salt for 2 days and were dried outdoors, hanged out in the sun. As the process depended on favourable weather namely the sun and high temperatures, the muxama was only produced during summer time.
The entire process makes the tuna shrink, turns the red color of the fish into a dark reddish-brown and it provides a firm consistency to the fish meat.
Muxama should be served as an appetizer, finely sliced with a contrasting sweet sauce (orange, olive oil and balsamic sauce and coriander or basil leaves all smashed) adding peace’s of orange on the plate. It can be also used as ingredient for salads.