If we can cook it, you can cook it!

A salute to Anna Pump and her recipe for Grilled Fresh Tuna Steaks with Lemon Sauce

A salute to Anna Pump and her recipe for Grilled Fresh Tuna Steaks with Lemon Sauce
        Something unspeakable happened last week in Bridgehampton.  An extraordinary woman was taken from us as she crossed Main Street in a crosswalk.  A driver, whose license had been suspended, hurtled through town in the dark and struck a local hero. An immensely talented woman who will be remembered for  her gifts of friendship and kindness going back over forty years.  It was no wonder that yesterday over 500 people filed through her house to pay their respects to our own Anna Pump.  As rich as the culinary talent is in the Hamptons, Anna Pump was at the top of the list.  Her influence on local cooking and eating reaches back to her arrival here in the late 1970s.  Born in the town of Tarp, Germany, Anna and her late husband, Detlef, came to the United States with their two children in the 1960s. The family first settled in New Jersey where Detlef had a brother.  Offered a house in Southampton for two weeks one summer, the two fell instantly in love with the area, which reminded them of Tarp.  Even the potato fields felt familiar.  Tucked up next to the Danish border, the town has the Baltic on one side, the North Sea on the other.  The couples’ two children, son Harm and daughter Sybille were off to college so their parents went home to New Jersey and came right back out looking for a house.  The one they found and lovingly saved from ruin is the same house Anna lives in to this day. 
Best of Friends

Anna started cooking professionally in 1979.  She’d taken courses from James Beard among others and she says of herself  “ I learned that way.  I’m not a chef at all, I am a cook and I just loved it.”  My favorite story about Anna’s introduction to cooking in the Hamptons involved that other Food Goddess in our midst, Ina Garten.  At the time, Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa was located in Westhampton.  Anna answered a classified ad for a cook, which Ina responded to by asking her to come into the store and demonstrate her skills. Instead, Anna invited Ina for a meal.  Ina was bowled over by Anna’s cooking, gave her the job and remained to this day one of Anna’s closest friends.  In fact, Ina’s admiration is on full display on the cover of Anna’s most recent cookbook “Summer on a Plate” (Simon and Schuster 2008).  She writes “No one has inspired me more than Anna Pump.  Her recipes are simple, elegant and absolutely delicious.”  I think everyone who has ever eaten anything Anna ever cooked feels exactly the same way.  And we’ve all had plenty of opportunities to sample her wonderful food.       

Anna wasn’t with Ina very long before a tiny little roadside food shop came up for sale.  In 1980, Anna bought “Loaves and Fishes”  in the equally tiny hamlet of Sagaponack.  There, her output of wonderful things to eat made her a legion of fans. 
In the Garden of
The Bridgehampton Inn

“Loaves and Fishes” is not Anna’s only venture in the Hamptons. In the early 1900s she and Detfer bought a local landmark built in the 1790s.  With their daughter Sybille, they turned the place into The Bridgehampton Inn where they not only have lodging and a great restaurant, they also have cooking classes.  And this year, they moved their Loaves and Fishes Cookshop, which Sybille and her husband, Gerritt van Kempen own and operate, into a new space in front of the Inn. The store is locally famous for its “We accept Euros” sign and for the fact that miraculously it carries merchandise no Williams-Sonoma store ever has.                 


A colorful side dish of Grape Tomatoes

Today’s post is an homage to Anna and to our dear friends who introduced Anna to us.  Michael and Jim have birthdays very close together. And to celebrate, Michael asked if we would make a recipe from Anna’s first Cookbook, “The Loaves and Fishes Cookbook” (MacMillen 1985).  It was the first time in years that we’d had the dish which is an absolute shame.  We used this as a dinner party dish for several seasons when it was first published.  At the time, tuna was not the premium priced fish it is today.  Before the arrival of Sushi in every supermarket, tuna was a bargain.  Not any more.  Even though this is a local fish, it rang up at $24.00 a lb.  But if ever a dish were worth splurging on, this one is.  The big fish ‘steaks’ are first marinated for just one hour—no longer.  While they sit in their mustard-lemon marinade, you can put together your side dishes.  I made a Grape Tomato sauté with shallots and thyme and roasted some asparagus in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.  The fish can be grilled outdoors or in.  You can even use the broiler if you want.  It takes all of 4 minutes a side but check for doneness which will depend on how hot the grill is and how thick your fish is.  Pop the cooked fish into a warm oven, keeping all the marinade that will then be added to the Lemon Sauce. And oh what sauce!  It’s light and lemony, with a hint of rosemary and touch of garlic.   It looks beautiful on the fish and tastes even better on the plate.  And if you have any tuna left over, you have the makings of a flawless Salade Nicoise in your future. Here’s the recipe and here’s to our heroine, Anna Pump. We will never forget her and she will live on in the warmest of memories and in the wonderful things she taught us to cook.

2 thoughts on “A salute to Anna Pump and her recipe for Grilled Fresh Tuna Steaks with Lemon Sauce”

  • What a beautifully elegant setting that dish makes alongside the other offerings. Right out of a magazine – gorgeous!

    You're right – tuna is an extravagant treat but oh, so good.

    Ms. Anna seems like a doll who really loves her food. I'm glad she's enjoying the good life!

    Thanks for another great post!

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