Friday, June 4, 2021

Tuna Steak Two Ways. With Gremolata. Or With Fruit Salsa.

Today I'm cooking tuna and here's how to do it:  Get out your cast iron skillet.  Heat it up somewhere around 375°- 400°,  film the pan with some peanut oil (for high smoke point), add in a chunk of butter (for flavor), and when the butter gets all bubbly, carefully place in your tuna steak.  Cook 2 - 2½ minutes on the first side.  Turn it over and go for two minutes on the flip side.  Remove from hot skillet and plate, else it keeps on cooking.  If you want more of a sear or a blackened steak, crank up the temperature to 425° - 450° and cook for 1½ - 2 minutes the first side, 1 - 1½ on the flip.  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.  Practice enough and you'll get the feel for this.

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 teaspoon of sesame oil in with the peanut oil, OR, if you'd like a little heat, you can try some gochugaru seasoning (Gochugaru is Korean red chile pepper flakes.) OR you can crank it up with some togarashi seasoning (a combo of red chile, 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 - which complement the tuna steaks most agreeably, adding both freshness and brightness to the dishes.

Now that you know how to cook your basic tuna fillet, lets make the condiments.
First, the gremolata. 

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 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.

I'm going with a fairly basic gremolata here.
Rosie's Gremolata
1 cup packed parsley, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
zest of ½ lemon
juice of 1 lemon
2 TB olive oil
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 the fillets, then seared them (in oil and butter) as directed above. 

I have my tuna, seasoned and ready, my gremolata is waiting, and, for a side dish, I picked some asparagus out of the garden.

I cooked up some basmati rice, steamed the asparagus until just crisp-tender, seared the tuna, then spooned the gremolata over the tuna and asparagus.

The next day, I finished up the gremolata with more seared tuna, steamed broccoli, and wild rice.


For my second 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 it, 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.

 Fruit Salsa 
3 strawberries, diced
1 kiwi, peeled and diced
1 tsp sugar
TB cider vinegar
1 TB soy sauce
1 – 2 tsp chopped cilantro
Combine all ingredients and spoon over tuna fillets.
I marinated the tuna for about an hour in 2 TB each ginger juice with some pulp and soy sauce with a teaspoon of sesame oil.

My pan was hothothot,
with oil and butter.
Carefully place in the tuna fillet
to avoid splattering.

Cook about 2 minutes first side.

About 1½ on the other side.

At the last minute of cooking, I poured in the marinade.

Remove tuna from heat, plate, and pour cooked marinade over top.

For my side dish, I wanted something a little different.
I'm going with a snap pea stir fry. 
Vegetables for Stir Fry
snap peas
mushrooms, sliced
multi-colored peppers, chopped
onion, chopped

Heat your skillet over medium-high.
Film pan with a light coating of peanut oil, a little sesame oil, and butter. 
When the butter is sizzly, toss in the mushrooms and cook for about 90 seconds.
Add in snap peas and a sprinkling of sugar.  (½ - 1 tsp) Cook for a minute.

Add in peppers and onions.

Toss around.  Cook about 30 seconds and you're done.
Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

I served the tuna on a bed of wild rice, with snap pea stir fry on the side, and fruit salsa on top.


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