Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tuna Two Ways

Browsing through my recent posts I realize that the vast majority are cookbook recipes, as though I don't cook anything of mine - at least, nothing worth sharing with you. And that's not true, it just happens that when I make something off the cuff I don't pay much attention to what I am doing and so when requests come from my husband or friends to remake a certain dish I attempt to retrace my steps and, more often than not, am left with a blank. I am sure I am not the only one! But for the past couple weeks I have been watching MasterChef America and MasterChef Australia (which, by the way, I think is much better than the American version) and decided that, damn, I need to cook my own recipes more often and earn my keep.

And then the Sultan Center had fresh Saudi tuna on display so I decided I would also tackle my fear of cooking fish. Never a recipe for disaster, right? I am not uncomfortable with all seafood: I love shellfish and find preparing them fairly easy, except for maybe scallops and lobster. Fish, on the other hand, just seems tricky and temperamental. Maybe it will come out dry, maybe raw, maybe with hidden little bones - and what's this poaching in oil thing I've heard about? Fascinating.

I decided to play it safe and broil the steaks; if I had a grill that would have been perfect. How did they turn out? Seth and I both preferred the marinated steaks over the herb & garlic topping, most likely because the orange juice made it slightly sweet which complimented the tuna quite nicely. I was damn impressed with myself that I cooked the fish to medium-rare though disappointed that I used too much garlic and olive oil in the first batch. Fortunately this blog acts as notes so I don't have to make the same mistakes twice. Unless I don't bother to review anything before attempting these dishes again - I am sure I am not the only one who does that, either.

Tuna with Herbs and Garlic

4 tuna steaks
1 bunch mint leaves, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1 or 2 garlic cloves, chopped (be careful about adding more because the garlic flavor will burn through the herbs)
1 shallot, chopped
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil, for mixing
salt & pepper

1. Preheat broiler to its lowest setting.  (My oven gives the option of Low or High and high inevitable burns everything within 40 seconds.)

2. With a mortar & pestle (or in a food processor) grind garlic, shallot and herbs until ingredients begin to form a rough paste. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and grind (or mix) until the ingredients form a spreadable paste. You may need to add more lemon juice or olive oil to reach this consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Lightly rub tuna steaks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread the herb garlic mixture over top of steaks and place under broiler, 7 minutes for medium-rare, 10 minutes for medium-well. Enjoy.

*** I used mint and parsley because I hand them on hand, but feel free to choose another combination. Be careful with the olive oil in the herb mixture because you want everything to just combine without becoming oily. Really watch out with your garlic: Seth and I love it so I used 4 cloves, but I'll par back to 1 or 2 when I remake this.

Tuna Steaks in an Asian-inspired Marinade*

4 tuna steaks
1/4cup mandarin orange juice (I freshly squeezed mine, but you can substitute bottled orange juice that doesn't have sugar added)
1/4cup light soy sauce
1tbsp hoisin sauce
2tsp fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, roughly chopped
Optional: 1tsp red chili paste (OR a few dashes of hot sauce OR other spice of your choice)

1. Mix all ingredients (except tuna), being sure to press on the garlic and ginger in order to extract their juice. Spread a few tablespoons on the bottom of a deep tray or dish, place tuna on top, then cover with remaining marinade. Marinate for at least 2 hours but no longer than 12.

2. Preheat broiler to lowest setting. Arrange tuna steaks on broiler pan, removing large pieces of ginger or garlic (so they won't burn). Cook under broiler for 7 minutes (medium-rare) or 10 minutes (medium-well), turning steaks over once during cooking. Enjoy.

*Titles are not my thing. It pained me to write "Asian-inspired marinade" because it sounds generic and uninformed, but it's what I've got.
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