Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Seared tuna Japanese-style

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I'll be traveling in France, so the FoodLetter, and the 30 Second Wine Advisor's Wednesday and Friday editions, will take a little time off. The FoodLetter will return on June 16!

In This Issue
 Seared tuna Japanese-style Fresh tuna, minimalist spices and a speedy procedure add up to one of the most luxurious easy dinners there is.
 Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives Links to previous articles.
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Seared tuna Japanese-style

Here's one of the most luxurious easy dinners there is: Take a fine piece of sushi-grade fresh tuna and a compatible flavor mix. Sear the tuna just until the edges are cooked but the center remains sushi-rare. Put it on a plate and eat it.

Indeed, the last time I wrote about a variation on this theme, in the April 25, 2002 FoodLetter, I titled the article "The virtues of minimalism."

This time, without particularly trying to replicate the earlier recipe, I threw together something quite similar. I coated a block of yellowtail big enough for two with a red- and black-pepper mix, then seared it briefly in peanut oil with ginger and garlic and finished with a quick pan sauce of soy sauce and lemon juice with a dash of wasabi, the hot Japanese horseradish served at sushi bars.

But then, rather than serving it in one big piece like a steak, I tried a different presentation twist to make the dish a bit more like a sushi adventure: I carefully cut the tuna into attractive thin strips - rectangles of tender pink tuna sushi ringed with a brown seared edge crusted with a bit of the pepper rub - and arranged them in neat rows around a serving of steaming white rice, sauced with the thickened pan reduction. It was as pretty as a picture, and if it hadn't been so tempting that we dived right in, I would have taken one.

Here's how to put it together. It's a simple but delicious dinner that takes little more than 20 minutes from start to finish, and wouldn't take that long if you didn't have to cook the rice.

INGREDIENTS: (serves 2)

10- to 12-ounce (300-350g) fresh tuna steak
Salt
Black pepper
Cayenne
4 tablespoons (60ml) soy sauce
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5g) wasabi powder
1 garlic clove
1 thick slice fresh ginger
1 tablespoon peanut oil

PROCEDURE:

1. Sprinkle the tuna generously on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add cayenne to your taste. You may do this just before cooking or, if you like, an hour or so before dinner to allow the spices time to penetrate the meat.

2. Mix the soy sauce and lemon juice in a cup or bowl and stir in the wasabi until it dissolves. Taste-test as you go and use a little more (or a little less) wasabi to your liking. We're seeking a piquant edge here, not a sinus-clearing experience.

3. Just as in the earlier seared-tuna recipe, 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, then put them in the hot pan with the peanut oil. (If nut allergies are a concern, substitute corn oil or other vegetable oil, but I wouldn't use olive oil in this dish - the flavor combination wouldn't work as well.)

Gently put in the tuna steak, and let it sear on one side without moving it for just 1 minute. Turn it and sear it on the other side for another minute. Holding it carefully, turn again and sear it briefly on the other sides. You want the surface crisp and brown but the center left cool and sushi-like. (OK, if you hate sushi, you can cook it through, about 3 minutes on each side depending on thickness. But it just won't be the same, and I would seriously question whether it's worth paying the price for sushi-quality tuna if you must do this.)

4. Turn the heat down to medium and pour the soy sauce mix into the pan. Turn the tuna once or twice to coat it on all sides while the liquid reduces to a syrupy consistency. Take out the tuna and cut it into thin slices, arranging them attractively around scoops of hot white rice on warmed plates. Drizzle the pan sauce around the fish, and serve.

MATCHING WINE:
I served this with the two German Rieslings featured in yesterday's 30 Second Wine Advisor, and it went well with both, although I liked it slightly better with the less-sweet Selbach 2002 Riesling Dry. It would go well with any crisp, grassy white - a Sancerre or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would be fine - or if you prefer a red, your choice of Pinot Noir.

PRINT OUT A COPY OF THIS RECIPE:
Want a copy that's easy to use in the kitchen? You'll find a simple, plain-text version of this recipe, suitable for printing, online at
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/print050602.html

DISCUSS COOKING IN OUR ONLINE FORUM:
If you have questions, comments or ideas to share about this recipe or food and cookery in general, you're welcome to drop by our Food Lovers' Discussion Group, where I've posted this article as a new topic, "FoodLetter: Seared tuna Japanese-style,"
http://www.myspeakerscorner.com/forum/index.phtml?fn=2&tid=62010&mid=531641

Click the REPLY button on the forum page to post a comment or response. (If your E-mail software broke this long link in half, take care to paste it all back into one line before you enter it in your Web browser.)

If you prefer to comment privately, feel free to send me E-mail at wine@wineloverspage.com.


Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives

Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Chicken with tarragon (May 26)
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/tsfl050526.phtml

Wine Advisor Foodletter archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/foodlist.phtml

30 Second Wine Advisor archive:
http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor1/thelist.shtml


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 at wine@wineloverspage.com. I really enjoy hearing from you, and I try to give a personal reply to all mail if I possibly can.

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Thursday, June 2, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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