Seared Ahi Tuna
A couple months ago Kim and I tried to make seared ahi (yellowfin) tuna for the first time. Of course what makes this dish so great is the rawness of the tuna: it’s only seared on the outside, with the majority remaining raw -- not rare, but raw. Cooked tuna tastes completely different and to me is just totally gross. Anyway, a few internet recipes said to cook the tuna for 2 minutes per side (on the grill) for rare, and even though that sounded way too long to me, we decided to go with it. And of course, it got cooked all the way through.
Last night I tried again, with a plan loosely based on some internet recipes and on my memory of what the dish is like at Outback Steakhouse and PF Chang’s. The thing that sticks out in my mind is the pepperyness of the seared outside, so the main part of my plan was to use lots of pepper. Here’s what I did:
1. Take out a plate and grind some pepper onto it. We have one of those small disposable glass pepper grinders where you can actually see the peppercorns inside, and my plan was to open it up and grab some of the peppercorns to manually crush them. But it turns out that the lid/grinder portion isn’t removable, so I had to just grind the pepper as you normally would. I did about 30 grinds, which gave me about 1-2 spoonfuls of pepper.
2. Add some salt (preferably sea salt, though we were out of that) to the plate, probably about half or a quarter as much as the pepper, so maybe half a spoonful.
3. Add half a spoonful of minced garlic. We have this in a small jar in the fridge, which is the only reason I added it; if I’d’ve had to mince it myself, forget it.
4. Mix that all up, then put the tuna steak on the plate and spread the mixture all over it.
5. Use a few spoonfuls of Italian breadcrumbs to further cover the outside of the tuna.
6. Put a pan on the stove, put a few spoonfuls of olive oil into it, and set it to as hot as it’ll go. Give it about 2 minutes to get hot.
7. Put the tuna in the pan. Have a shield ready; I used the lid from the pan, or an apron would probably work. Do not cover the tuna with the lid. Let it cook for 45 seconds per side. Even a little less time might have been good, but certainly not any more than 45 seconds per side. (The tuna steak I used was half a pound, and about 3/4 of an inch thick.)
8. You’re done. Serve it with Asian sesame dressing and wasabi sauce for dipping. At restaurants it generally comes cut into thin slices (about 1/4- or 1/2-inch thick) so be sure to cut it that way as you’re eating it for maximum effect.
With this recipe, it turned out awesome, and I’ll definitely make it this way again. But I also want to try this other recipe, which I didn’t have all the ingredients for this time. And OK, which is more complicated so Kim’ll probably have to handle it for me.