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The virtues of minimalism
Pan-seared tuna steak
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The virtues of minimalism

I generally enjoy messing around in the kitchen, dabbling in creative preparations and finicky inventions that my wife, shaking her head in amusement, calls "more trouble than it's worth."

But now and then comes an ingredient so perfect in its simplicity that it just doesn't make sense to try to improve on the gift that nature has provided.

That's the way I felt about last night's dinner, a beautiful yellowfin tuna steak from a local fish market, so fresh and tender that I thought seriously about picking it up and eating it au naturel, like a giant piece of sashimi.

Well, maybe not. But I did manage to refrain from spoiling it with excess. Here's how:

Pan-seared tuna steak

This dish should require no more than 15 minutes.

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

12 to 16 ounce fresh tuna steak, about 1 inch thick
Sea salt
Black pepper
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1 lime
Hot sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic
1 thick slice of fresh ginger


1. Mix the light soy sauce, the juice of one lime and a discreet shot of your favorite hot sauce in a cup or bowl.

2. Sprinkle the tuna steak on both sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Put a nonstick sautee pan or black iron skillet over high heat until it's very hot. Smack the garlic clove and ginger slice with your fist or the side of a chef's knife to break them a bit and release their juices, and put them in the hot pan with the olive oil. Gently put in the tuna steak, and let it sear on one side without moving it for about two minutes. Turn it and sear it on the other side for about one minute. You want to sear it crisp and brown on the surface while leaving it like sushi in the middle. (Obviously this procedure assumes that you LIKE sushi. If you must have your fish cooked through, extend the cooking time to 4 minutes per side, reducing the heat to medium after the first minute or two. But it won't be as good.)

4. Turn the heat down to medium-low and pour the soy sauce mix over the tuna. Turn it several times quickly to coat it on all sides while the liquid reduces to a thick syrup. Cut the steak in half and serve. I accompanied it with nothing more than steaming white rice and fresh garden asparagus dressed with a little salt, pepper and a dab of butter to make a delicious and elegantly simple meal.

MATCHING WINE: The combination of rich, fresh tuna with a hint of Asian flavor from the soy was wonderful with the Terredora 2000 Loggia della Serra Greco di Tufo featured in yesterday's 30 Second Wine Advisor. It would work well with any dry and aromatic white ... a Sauvignon Blanc should be fine if you can't find the Greco.

Let us hear from you!

If you have suggestions or comments about The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter, or if you would like to suggest a topic for a coming edition and recipe, please drop me a note. I really enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail if I possibly can. The Ask A Question form at is the easiest way to reach me, but if you prefer, you may also send E-mail to


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Thursday, April 25, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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