By Rosie Hawthorne on June 4, 2021
Today, I’m cooking tuna and here’s how: Get out your cast iron skillet. Heat it up between 375° and 400°, film it with some peanut oil (high smoke point), drop in a chunk of unsalted butter, and when the butter gets all bubbly, gently place your tuna steak in. Cook 2 – 2 ½ minutes on the first side. Turn it over and go about another two minutes on the flip side. Remove from pan and plate, else it keeps on cooking. Depending on the thickness of your steak and how hot your pan is (Get an instant-read laser thermometer.), you’ll have a rare-to-medium-rare tuna steak. If you want more of a blackened steak, crank up the heat (425° – 450°) and cut back the time (1½ – 2 minutes first side, 1 – 1½ on the flip). These times are suggestions for starting points. Practice and you’ll get the hang of it and be able to cook your steaks rare to medium-rare, however you like. I do recommend that thermometer though.
Now, about seasoning. You can go simple, with just kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, and you’ll be just fine. Or, you can sprinkle sesame seeds (and use a little sesame oil in the pan for extra flavor); or, if you like a little heat, try red chile pepper flakes; or you can try some togarashi seasoning – a combination of red chiles, black and white sesame seeds, nori, poppy seed, and lemon and orange zest.
For starters, I have your basic seared tuna along with a couple condiments for you to try – a gremolata and a fruit salsa. Both seasonings accent the tuna most agreeably, adding both freshness and brightness to the dishes.
Gremolata is a classic Italian condiment, zesty and herbal, typically made with parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. Once you’ve made the original version, you can get creative and make variations on the theme. For example, try substituting basil or mint, or even spinach for parsley. Scallions, nuts, and various citrus zests (lime or orange) would be welcome flavorings also. Any leftover gremolata can be used over roasted vegetables, stirred into pasta dishes, added to your next batch of meatballs, or, with a little balsamic vinegar and more olive oil, used as a salad dressing.
For my tuna, I’m going with a fairly basic gremolata.
Combine all ingredients. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Top gremolata with red chile flakes.
For the tuna:
I pressed lemon zest, kosher salt, and Lawry’s seasoned pepper into my tuna steaks and then seared them (in oil and butter) as directed above. Spoon gremolata over cooked tuna steaks.
For my next tuna dish, bright colors and fresh flavors in my fruit salsa complement the fish perfectly. I marinated the tuna steaks for about an hour in a mixture of 2 TB ginger juice with pulp and 2 TB soy sauce. Whenever I buy ginger root, I slice it into one-inch chunks and freeze it. That way, I always have ginger on hand. Also, I’ve found that the best way to get juice out of ginger is to freeze it first, then peel and nuke the chunks for about 20 seconds. You can easily squeeze the juice out by hand, or use a garlic press and get the juice and scrape off some of the pulp.
Sear fillets according to above instructions. Serve with fresh fruit salsa.
Combine all ingredients and spoon over tuna fillets.
My last offering is marinated tuna fillets with a reduced sauce made from the marinade. You want to take advantage of every bit of that flavor and goodness.
For the marinade:
For the tuna:
Let tuna fillets marinate for an hour. Remove from marinade and shake off excess.
Sear tuna according to above directions. Remove from pan.
Lower heat and pour in marinade. Let simmer and reduce a bit. Finish off the sauce by swirling in a tablespoon or two of cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces. This is to enrich, thicken, and give the sauce a nice glossy sheen. When adding butter to a sauce, have the pan off your burner or over very low heat. Add the butter gradually and whisk constantly. Boiling or rapid simmering can cause the sauce to separate and break up. To achieve that velvety consistency of an emulsion, incorporate the butter over low heat (or off heat) just enough to melt and thicken, but not hot enough to break and melt into oily puddles.
Spoon sauce onto plate and place tuna fillet on top of the pool. Pour more of the reduction over fillet and sprinkle with chopped scallions.
For any culinary questions, feel free to e-mail me at RosieHawthorne@gmail.com. Bon appétit! For more Rosie’s Recipes on the Outer Banks Voice click here