Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seared Sesame Ahi Tuna with Ponzu Sauce

Light, healthy and delicious, this delicate Seared Sesame Ahi Tuna showcases the lean, clean flavours of a beautiful piece of sashimi-grade ahi tuna. Like a good piece of steak, ahi tuna requires very little cooking time, if any at all. The secret is searing the tuna so briefly that it toasts the sesame seed coating yet keeps the centre quite rare. Cooked with restraint, the tuna will melt in your mouth. Delicious served with a bowl of tangy Asian-inspired Scallion & Ginger Ponzu Sauce, some mixed greens and a few kappamaki picked up from your local sushi counter, and you'll be enjoying a lovely and easy romantic dinner for two tonight, and celebrate Valentine's together, rather than in the kitchen.

Scallion & Ginger Ponzu Sauce

Seared Sesame-Crusted Ahi Tuna with Asian Sauce
Serves 4

For the sauce:

1 scallion, finely sliced on the diagonal
1/3 cup Ponzu sauce
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/8 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes

For the tuna:
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 lb fresh tuna, in one thick piece
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp white sesame seeds
2 tbsp black sesame seeds

For the salad & dressing:
1 tsp of toasted sesame seeds
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp Mirin wine vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp dried crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 avocado, sliced
2 cups of mixed spring greens
1/2 cup bean sprouts
Kappamaki cucumber rolls - optional garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together the scallions, ginger, red pepper flakes and Ponzu sauce and set aside. 
For the salad dressing, toss all of the first six ingredients together in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper, and set aside until ready. 

Trim any dark areas from the tuna, then cut into four equal pieces, trimming them a little if necessary to make four rectangular logs, and sprinkle with salt. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Mix the white and black sesame seeds in a shallow plate. Season each piece of tuna on both sides with salt and then press the tuna into the sesame seeds, coating the fish on all sides. Add the tuna to pan and sear for a few minutes on each side, depending on the thickness, making sure to keep the center rare, about 3 minutes on each side, or cook longer if you want it well done. 

Remove the cooked tuna to a cutting board and set aside. Clean out the pan with a paper towel, since sesame seeds will fall off the tuna and start to burn. In the now clean pan, heat up more vegetable oil and repeat with the rest of the tuna. 

To serve, slice each piece of tuna across the grain into 1/2" thick pieces, slightly fanning out the slices, and garnish with green onions and a small bowl of Scallion & Ginger Ponzu Sauce on each serving plate. Serve with three kappamaki and a mound of salad greens, sprouts and avocado, with a drizzle of dressing and a dusting of sesame seeds.