bits and pieces

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Macademia and Wasabi-Lime Seared Ahi Tuna

I spent this New Year's on the lovely island of Kauai with my lovely boyfriend and his lovely family. One of the loveliest things about Kauai is that you can get fresh ahi tuna EVERYWHERE. IT'S LOVELY. OK - loveliness aside,every single place- pub, bistro, sports bar, or gourmet restaurant - will have some sort of ahi tuna. From poke, to sashimi, to seared steaks, it was amazing.  I ate it at every opportunity. Occasionally twice a day. Clearly I have a problem.



Sadly for me, it is not as abundant in Vancouver.  It is a nice treat once in awhile, and I feel relatively healthy eating it.  Seared tuna reminds me of Hawaii and thus reminds me of sunshine. Personally I hate living in Vancouver in the winter (-20 and sunny > 2 and rainy) so any sunshine is wonderful - even if it's just a figment of my imagination. Today was pretty much a constant drizzle of just enough rain to make you hate yourself. To take my mind off the fact that I was probably not going leave the house and thus watch the Bachelor in my sweatpants - sustaining my winter-long trend of succeeding at life - I decided to pan sear me some tuna, and do it up with some nice sides (note: sides forthcoming - ginger steamed shitakke, ponzu bok choi, wasabi sweet potatoes).




Last note - seafood is delicious but tuna is not the most sustainable of fishies. I'm learning more about seafood-sustainability although I'm still not an expert. All I know is don't eat bluefin tuna! I think yellow fin is OK. Bluefin is in serious trouble though.  If you're buying local or from a seafood shop you frequent - it's nice to see if you can find out if your Tuna is pole-caught. Try and get the highest grade you can (sashimi grade), and get ready. If anyone can fill me in on tuna sustainability - please do!



ingredients:
1 big ahi steak - should be pink to reddish (not too dark), and smell fresh and clean - not fishy. If you can't find red tuna I'm sure this would work with toro or high grade salmon.


(this is the marinade)
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce
dash of fish sauce
2 scallions, chopped
1 AMP (or whatever chile you have on hand), chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
splash of sake/rice wine vinegar
juice of one lime


(this is the 'crust')
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 cup panko
1 tbsp wasabi powder (mine wasn't very hot so I honestly used this much - if yours has more zing, I'd scale it back)
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
a pinch of salt
a pinch of sugar
zest of 1 lime


things you will need:
a really good knife - the blade should be scary sharp and straight edged (no serrated). This will allow you to slice your seared tuna without making a mess of it.
a mortar and pestle/food processor for grinding your macadamia nuts
a frying pan
a zester/cheese grater to zest your lime
saran wrap
tongs - for the cooking process. You'll need to rotate your tuna to ensure each side gets cooked evenly. Tongs are one of those kitchen tools I couldn't live without. If you don't have a pair - get one.
  1. Make your marinade. You will notice this is very similar to the harakiri wings marinade. TRUE. This is just a great, standard combination of flavours. It works well as an Asian inspired marinade for most things. Set aside a small amount of marinade to use as a dipping sauce for your tuna.
  2. Slice your tuna steak into what are effectively elongated rectangle blocks. It doesn't matter if they are all the same length as you are going to slice them up later.
  3. If you are ready to start cooking - marinate your tuna in the marinade. Seafood absorbs marinades quickly, so you don't want to let it marinate for hours like you would ribs. For example, shrimp should never marinate for more than half an hour. Any longer and the marinade will effectively start to 'cook' your shrimp almost like a ceviche. Cooking them after this will leave them rubbery and gross. Ergo, marinate your tuna for about half an hour. Make sure it is covered with glorious marinade. Cover with saran and chill in the fridge.
  4. While your tuna is marinating in glory - I have written marinade so many times it is starting to look weird to me - prepare your 'crust'. Grind your macadamia nuts down to a fine powdery rubble. You can pulse them in a food processor a few times, beat them senseless with a mortar and pestle, or put them in a resealable bag and smash them on things until the job is done. Zest your lime, and mix all your shenanigans together.
  5. Once you have your crust shake it out onto a flat plate/clean cutting board and think 'how big was my tuna steak? does it look like I have enough here to completely encrust my tuna?' if not, adjust the volume of your crust-bits (aka make more if you need to).
  6. take your tuna out and remove it from the marinade. If it's dripping, give it a little pat down as you don't want it to be sopping.
  7. Rrrrroooooll your tuna in the crust, making sure to coat each side. NOW - if you are a hungry hungry hippo as I was last night, you can move on to step 9. IF you can stand to wait for another 15-30 minutes, complete step 8.
  8. Take each piece of crusted tuna, and wrap it up tightly in saran wrap, effectively sealing the crust onto it. Put your tuna nuggets back in the fridge for another 15-25 minutes.
  9. Heat your frying pan to HOT with a little bit of oil in it (canola or something else with a low smoke point). Place your tuna down in the pan - it should make a happy cooking sound (note: obviously you should have removed the saran wrap. If you didn't, this is your fault and you should reconsider your life goals). Cook tuna for ABOUT 30 seconds on each side (there will be 4 sides as these are rectangle tubes of tuna). Cook time depends on how rare you like your tuna (I like it RARE) and how thick your tuna is. I probably seared mine for a little under two minutes. You can monitor the 'doneness' by looking at the end of your tuna-tube. You'll see the cooked tuna as a lighter ring around the outside. The thicker this ring, the more cooked your tuna. I like mine minimally cooked so mine had probably a 2-3 mm ring of sear around it.
  10. Remove tuna from pan (turn off stove, and all that), and allow tuna to rest on your cutting board for a few minutes. Get your giant scary knife and carefully slice your tuna into about half-inch pieces. You'll want to use a gentle but firm back and forth cutting motion to ensure you don't ruin your tuna with a shoddy chopping job.
  11. Enjoy your tuna as is, or by dipping in your pre-reserved marinade. It's also delicious with ponzu or tempura dipping sauce.
Here is a super shady photo of mine from last night! I went through two digital cameras last year, and then lovely bf's broke in the pacific ocean, and I have yet to replace mine as I'd like to get something GOOD as opposed to the olddd point and click. Subsequently, this is a shitty blackberry photo
 

note: blogger has changed it's formatting so I'm having some trouble with consistency in post-themes. Sorry!

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