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Kick the can with seared tuna

Sesame-crusted tuna is mounded on mashed potatoes.

Sesame-crusted tuna is mounded on mashed potatoes.

It wasn't so very long ago that most Americans thought tuna only came from a can, and that if they encountered rare tuna in a restaurant they'd sent it back to be cooked some more. What a difference a decade or so makes.
Fresh tuna is now found on nearly every menu, grilled, pan-fried, poached, chopped into burgers or tartare - even transformed into upscale versions of good old tuna salad. This rich, beefy fish is popular even with diners who say they don't like fish.
For home cooks, though, fresh tuna can be a bit intimidating. It's pretty pricey, and without careful monitoring it can pass quickly from just right to overcooked.
But the price doesn't seem so bad when you consider there's no waste, no skin or bones, and that by paying attention, you can avoid overcooking.
It's best to remove the fish from the heat just before it reaches the desired doneness. It will cook a bit more in the retained heat, and undercooking is easy to correct. Cooked properly, the fish should have a deeply seared crust with a tender, moist, plum-red interior.
Here are shopping and cooking tips:
Like any fish, tuna should smell fresh, look translucent and be moist without being slimy, wet or sticky. Look for tuna steaks with a deep, beefy, red color. Any brown color indicates the fish is past its prime.
If you like your fish medium or well-done, choose a thinner cut; for rare, pick a thicker cut.
You will probably find yellowfin or ahi tuna, big-eye or albacore. I prefer yellowfin for its sweet flavor and firm yet tender texture.
If possible, cook the fish the day you purchase it. If you can't, fill a colander with ice cubes, set it in a bowl, cover with a piece of plastic wrap and lay the tuna on top. Cover with another piece of plastic and place in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Replenish the ice as needed and use within a day.
Because tuna is not fatty, keeping its center medium-rare is important or the end result is an extremely dry piece of fish.
An easy and delicious way to prepare tuna is to simply sear both sides. Tuna is also ideal for grilling - about 2 minutes on each side for a charred exterior and rare center.
Asian flavors such as ginger are especially complementary to tuna in marinades and sauces.
SEARED SESAME TUNA WITH GINGER AND GARLIC
This recipe is adapted from Jason McClain, chef-owner of 8-1/2 Restaurant in Miami Beach, who serves it with asparagus and wasabi-mashed potatoes. An assertive white wine like a 2005 Amisfield Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand will contrast with the richness of the tuna steaks in the same way the spicy, citrusy sauce ingredients do.
1/4 cup black sesame seeds
1/2 cup white sesame seeds
4 (6-ounce) ahi tuna steaks, 1 inch thick
4 tablespoons canola oil (divided)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
GINGER SOY DRESSING
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
In a shallow dish, combine the two types of sesame seeds and stir to mix.
Brush tuna with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Firmly press tuna into the sesame seeds, coating evenly on all sides.
In a nonstick pan, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat until very hot. Arrange the tuna in the pan, making sure not to crowd, and cook until the white sesame seeds start to turn golden, 1 to 2 minutes.
Carefully turn the tuna and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. (The tuna will be rare. If you like it further cooked, place it in a preheated 350-degree oven for a few minutes.)
Transfer the tuna to a cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.
In a small bowl, stir together all the dressing ingredients. Serve immediately alongside tuna. Makes 4 servings.


Updated : 2021-06-25 22:01 GMT+08:00