Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Pea Crust

>> Friday, March 27, 2015



Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Pea Crust


My first sushi experience was around 1990, and I really had to choke it down while distracting my mind screaming, "Oh gah, I'm eating raw meat! Raw meat! My mom told me not to do this!"

The saner half of my mind was saying, "Shhh, come on now, people eat this all the time and they like it - don't think about it, don't think about it, you're eating unicorn bubbles and sun rays and it's GOOD!"

Yeah, it's like that in my mind a lot, and I hope you're not clicking away right now before I tell you how amazing this ahi tuna recipe is.

Obviously I conquered my squeamishness over sushi and seafood in general (I ate way too much Lake Michigan trout and salmon off my dad's boat when I was a kid). Now tuna has a very special place in my taste buds. Once I appreciated that velvety mouthfeel and gorgeous watermelon-colored flesh, and the buttery white slices of yellowfin tuna you get in a good sashimi bento box, I didn't care for cooked tuna at all. Cooked tuna can be dry, because ahi is fairly lean, and the fishy taste is intensified.

Seared Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Pea Crust


The week before Valentine's Day, I started developing a menu that would surprise Joe, stretch my cooking repertoire, be as healthy as possible, and use up a lot of items in our pantry and freezer as part of our yearly spring cleaning. I made seven courses in the classic French tradition, where the salad is served after the main course. The fish course featured these seared tuna steaks with a crunchy wasabi-pea crust.

We have made this several times since then. Ahi is a low -fat, high-protein meat, and flash-frozen fish fillets tasted just as good in this recipe as high-priced fresh ahi tuna. This is also extremely quick to make, so be sure everything's ready to go before you start cooking.

P.S. We used this delicious Ginger-Wasabi Sauce from Pampered Chef,  a gift from Joe's sister. However, Pampered Chef has just discontinued the sauce, so if you don't have a jar lying around, try our easy version!

Ingredients

For the tuna
3 3-4 oz. ahi tuna steaks
2/3 cup wasabi peas - you can often find these in the snack section of an Asian aisle
1 tbsp canola oil

For wasabi-ginger sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger (about 1 inch)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
1 1/2 tsp wasabi paste (or wasabi powder mixed with 1/4 tsp water)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light molasses (or light brown sugar mixed with 1 tsp water)

Instructions

Let tuna fillets dry on paper towels - the more moisture you absorb, the easier it will be to sear them without moisture seeping out and poaching them instead. This will also ensure they don't soak up much oil.

Put all the sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve.

Crush the wasabi peas in a blender, or coffee grinder. You can also put them in a plastic bag and crush them by rolling a rolling pin over them. When you're done, they should be the texture of coarse crumbs. Spread the peas onto a plate.

Heat a wide skillet on medium-high, then add the oil. Press the tuna fillets into the wasabi peas until coated on both sides. When the oil shimmers, place the fish in the pan and make sure they aren't touching each other.

Cook until there's a good sear on one side, then flip over and sear the other side for a minute or so.  You want the sear to be about a millimeter deep, and the center rare at room temperature

That's it! We like to serve them by slicing them across the grain, sort of like a slice of sashimi at a fancy restaurant. This shows the gorgeous contrast between that pretty ruby flesh and the bright green pea crust. 

Serves 4.

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