A picture is worth a thousand words….and I am not sure that I can add anything to that one.
I was lucky enough to get several large hunks of sashimi grade tuna! Not the skinny little filets that I get at the farmers market but three inch thick hunks of the most gorgeous, deep red tuna that I could ever hope for.
Sometimes. And only sometimes. My brother is worth the gray hairs.
Of course with Tuna this gorgeous, I couldn’t dare cook. It would have been a crime against god and nature to cook tuna that gorgeous. I did however want to give it some flavor.
My first attempt at searing tuna turned out poorly. I got my beautiful color but by the time that I got my color the lovely texture of the tuna inside has already gone rubbery. And at that point I might as well have cooked the thing all the way through.
What I want in seared tuna is a thin layer of color on the outside and completely raw on the inside. The way they do it as good sushi restaurants.
Fortunately for me, it was Alton brown to the rescue! Alton did an entire show on properly treating and searing tuna.
Admittedly I threw most of the ideas away, save two:
1. The chunk must be large enough and of uniform enough size to sear properly
2. You must use really high heat and you must do it quickly
And while I did end up marinating the tuna I didn’t end up using Alton’s. It was the kind of marinade where I look into my cupboards and think about what it is I want to do and after about 10 solid minutes of staring without blinking I realize that yes, my eyeballs are drying out. At that point I grab what ever it is that looks vaguely interesting at the time and dump it into my large Ziploc bag.
I have to admit that I was a tad daunted by the prospect of cooking the tuna and getting it wrong. Even though the tuna was a gift and thus free, I could not imagine ruining a piece of fish this beautiful.
None the less, I stuck the two large chunks into my marinade and crossed my fingers.
By that point I still had no idea what it was I was going to do with that tuna. Part of me called for the grill while another, irrational part told me to get out my cast iron grill.
In the end I ended up compromising. I brought out my two burner grill pan. The last time I had used it, I ended up melting a part of the range plastic. I figured short of Alton’s blast furnace in a can, this would be the only thing I could get hot enough to do a good quick sear.
I was almost terrified by the point that the grill began to smoke. It was so hot I could feel it 10 inches from the plate. So I crossed my fingers and dropped my first piece on, immediately starting to count. The second piece was a bit smaller so it went on a few second after.
By 60 seconds the white was beginning to creep up the side and I flipped, finding perfect, golden grill marks on the first side. The second side took nearly and each edge took a further 30 second.
I was nervous through, right up until the first cut. The very first cut yielded exactly what I wanted. Even at the tip where the seared portion was a little thicker the interior was still cold and not at all rubbery.
I sliced it thin, adding a bit of five spice rice to hold it and served.
It was the perfect summer dish. Cool and refreshing on a still warm evening.
The flesh melted like butter over my tongue leaving just a hint of marinade and the slight sting of wasabi.
3-4 inch thick tuna loin of uniform size and thickness (over a pound)
¼ cup Mirin (sweet rice wine)
3 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 teaspoon wasabi
Rinse the tuna and pat dry.
In a sealable plastic bag, mix everything except for the tuna until well blended. Add tuna and marinate for 1 hour.
Oil a large cast iron grill pan or frying pan and warm over high heat until smoking. Carefully place the tuna onto the pan and do not move. Slowly count to 60 then check on the sear. The flesh should be a golden color and the white should begin to barely creep up the side.
Turn and repeat on the other side. Do not be tempted to move the fish during this time. Once the other side had been seared, place the tuna on its edge and sear for 30 second on each edge.
Remove to a plate and allow to rest uncovered for 10 minutes.
Slice thin and server over rice.
3 teaspoons mirin
1.5 teaspoons pomegranate syrup
¼ teaspoon dark soy sauce
Mix everything together with a fork and serve. I prefer to boil the mirin to remove some of the alcohol first.
5 Spice Rice
3 cups left over white rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon five spice powder
½ teaspoon dark sesame oil
Salt to taste
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Heat a large skillet on medium until hot. Drizzle the olive oil on the bottom and add the rice. Stir to coat, breaking up any lumps with a spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle with the five spice powder and salt, stirring to distribute evenly.
Cook undisturbed for 3 minutes then add the sesame oil. Continue to cook, stirring gently until rice is hot.