March 6, 2016

It's raw fish. Deal with it. It's good.

It’s raw fish. Deal with it. It’s good.

In the ongoing roster of new things I have made, please note down “tuna poke.”

Say what?

Yes. Tuna poke. You will find a recipe for it right here, and that’s essentially the recipe I used, except I left out the avocado because I didn’t have one. Essentially, it’s raw tuna, marinated in a soy sauce and sesame oil based sauce, and stirred together before serving with diced pineapple and, if you had it, avocado.

I learned to love raw ahi tuna when I first started eating sushi. Moreso than any other fish (though halibut is close) it has a velvety texture, and a marvelous, marvelous taste. And that was all well and good until I went to Japan, and ate sushi with the fishermen at a little cafe inside the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo at 6 a.m., and that tuna was swimming less than 8 hours before he was clutched between my chopsticks.

Dear Sweet Baby Jesus. That experience doggoned near ruined me for sushi in the US; there’s a flavor difference — and, yes, a textural difference — of several orders of magnitude between that sushi and the sushi you get even in a good sushi place here in Middle America. But after the taste-memory faded a bit, I could go back to eating domestic sushi, because, well, I don’t get to Tokyo that often.

Frozen ahi tuna you get in the bag at Sam’s is a step below sushi-grade ahi, but it’s acceptable in this dish, particularly if you just want a change of pace. I would probably make it more if I lived close to a really good-quality fish market and could get sushi-grade ahi.

I took a single tuna steak — maybe 6, ounces, didn’t weigh it — and cut it in half-inch cubes. Put it in a bowl, and poured the dressing (more about the dressing in a minute) over it, stirred in some black and white sesame seeds, and stashed it in the fridge, where it would be joined later by the pineapple.

Then I set about making the rest of dinner.

The dressing, which had 1/4 cup sesame oil, two or three tablespoons of soy sauce, a teaspoon of rice vinegar,  and some grated ginger, made an appearance in other iterations in the cucumber salad as well. I took an English cucumber, cut longways in quarters, and cut out the seedy centers before I sliced them in half-inch chunks. To what was left of the dressing, added some more rice vinegar and some mirin for a sweet note, and tossed the cucumbers in it to coat. Then they went into the fridge with the tuna.

Finally, I cut some brussels sprouts in half. Heated some peanut oil in a skillet, added some ginger and lemongrass (let me just tell you, the ginger, particularly, as well as the lemongrass that come in the squeeze tube in the produce section cooler are the finest thing since sliced bread; I scarcely keep ginger root on hand any more) and two or three cloves of garlic confit, which I smushed into the oil with the back of a spoon. Stirred that all around, and added the halved sprouts, turning them so they were cut side down. I left them alone on medium high heat for two or three minutes, to get a good caramelization on the cut side, and then commenced tossing them with a spatula. Added a shot or two of rice vinegar, sesame oil, mirin and soy sauce — my standard stirfry sauce. Gave them just a couple of minutes, then moved them off the heat and covered the skillet with a lid so they’d steam just a bit.

I’d started rice in the rice cooker before anything else, so it all was ready about the same time. Got the cucumbers and the tuna out of the fridge; stirred the pineapple into the tuna. You do that right before you eat because pineapple has an enzyme in it that breaks down the protein in meat and fish; had the tuna sat in the dish with pineapple for very long before serving, the enzyme would’ve turned the delicate fish to mush. (Thus, don’t even think about keeping the leftovers, should there be any of this; won’t fly.)

It’s another quick dinner, and quite healthy and low-cal, if you stay to the light side on the rice. So try it for dinner, and tell y’mama ‘n ’em it’s good for them.



2 Responses to “Tuna…what?”

  1. Kath the Cook Says:

    follow up: While Carnivore Club box is delicious and very high-quality, the quantity is ridiculously small. Exactly 1 1/4 lb. of charcuterie for a very significant price. Even with a Groupon absolutely not worth the money. finis

  2. kayatthekeyboard Says:

    Good to know. Someone on a food forum I follow was noting a good place to order charcuterie; I’ll check with her and let you know. Meanwhile, I found a semi-local source for a limited selection; their duck pastrami is pretty wonderful.

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