One of the benefits to working in restaurants is that I have access to product which might otherwise be difficult to get or expensive. Occasionally, I ask one of the chefs I work with if I can buy something and thankfully, they almost always say yes. The company I work for specializes in seafood and the nice thing about buying from them is that I know the fish is of the highest quality and I’m able to get it at a reasonable cost.
I find fish in most supermarkets suspect because it’s too hard to tell quality and freshness, not to mention sustainability issues. There are some local fish markets I like, but when the cost per pound exceeds my age, or I don’t feel like making a special trip, I look to the chefs in my company.
One day last week as I was leaving the house for work, my husband said “bring home some fish?” I know he loves ahi so I picked up two nice pieces for dinner from the restaurant I was working in that day.
My plan was to crust the tuna in black and white sesame seeds but alas, this was not to be. As I dug the jar of white sesame seeds out of the back of my cabinet, I noticed something did not look right. Let’s just say some things had taken up residence in the jar. Into the trash it went. What to do now?
I rummaged though my spice drawer and remembered an ahi dish I’d had recently in one of the restaurants. This is another benefit; I get to eat great food almost every day at work. The tuna had been seared with a coriander crust. The rest of that dish was completely different than what I’d planned, but I liked the idea of the coriander and felt inspired to use it for the crust. Plus, I had coriander seeds in my spice drawer and they had no things living in them. Win/win, right? To the original idea, I added white peppercorns. You could use black peppercorns, or even other spices which appeal to you.
Many thanks to the hard-working chefs with whom I work who inspire me and generously allow me buy food from them.
Tip: It’s a good idea to make the slaw and the wasabi vinaigrette before cooking the tuna.
12 oz cucumber
4 oz carrot
1 large red bell pepper
1 shallot, minced.
1.5 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. fish sauce*
1 tsp lime juice
Peel the cucumber and carrot. Slice the red bell pepper into sections, discarding the stem and seeds. Carefully slice away the white inner skin of the pepper to flatten it out. Julienne*the pepper. I used my mandoline (New Benriner Vegetable Cutter ) to cut the cucumber and carrot (be very careful!) but you can also do this with a knife. Combine the three vegetables in a large bowl.
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, fish sauce and lime juice. Add the shallot. Add the dressing to the slaw and combine.
*Julienneis to cut into thin matchstick like strips. The mandoline is a great tool to do this with firm vegetables. Otherwise, make sure you have a good sharp knife.
*Fish Sauce– known as nam pla in Thailand, nuoc mam in Vietnam and shottsuruin Japan. It’s made from fermented fish (often anchovies) and an essential ingredient in many asian recipes. On it’s own it’s almost too strong, but as an ingredient it adds that “special something” that is clearly lacking when not included.
2 tsp wasabi powder
2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp olive oil (or peanut oil if you have it)
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce*
Whisk together all ingredients.
For vinaigrette basics, see my post on How to Make a Basic Vinaigrette
2 pieces Ahi Tuna, preferably sushi quality, 6-7 oz each
2 Tbsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp white peppercorns
1 Tbsp canola (or any other plain) oil
Toast the coriander seeds and white peppercorns in a hot saute pan until fragrant, about 1 minute. Let cool and grind in a spice grinder (I use an old coffee grinder). Roll the tuna in the ground spices until all sides are covered.
Heat a saute pan and then add the oil. Quickly sear the tuna on all sides, about 1/4 inch, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and slice thinly. Serve with Cucumber Slaw and Wasabi Vinaigrette.
Please note, the fish is still raw in the center. Certain people should not eat raw fish. If you are at all concerned about eating raw fish, ask your doctor. I’m not concerned (I know the source of my fish), but I’m not responsible for your health, you are.