MMMmmmmmm, Tuna. So, the whole seared tuna thing is about as cliche as you can get these days. Even Nebraska steak houses have a seared tuna appetizer, and there’s not much originality you can present with the fish these days.
On the other hand, why is that different from a steak bearnaise or a shellfish bisque? It’s relatively new, but it is somewhat of a fusion classic in modern cuisine. It could be worse — it could be fried mozerella sticks or something.
My favorite restaurant in South Beach Miami is Nemo’s (which opened long before Pixar). One of their signature dishes is a softball-sized chunk of tuna, rolled in nori seaweed, seared, and presented with a sesame seared rice-ball. It’s too good for words.
Today, one of my fish suppliers had AAA-grade sashimi yellowfin tuna on sale, ruby-red and glistening, and the muscle grains were tight and compact. So, I did my part to riff off of the Nemo’s.
I made a honey-lime-soy glaze, and served the tuna over a glaze-wasabi stir fry of vegetables and pad thai noodles.
In a bowl, I juiced two limes, put in some rice vinegar, a couple tablespoons of honey, and soy sauce.
I tore up some nori seaweed and processed it until it was just flakes — eerily sort of like fish-food flakes.
Mmmmm. Glistening tuna.
Tuna is dipped in the glaze, then dipped and sprinkled with the nori flakes. It looks messy, but that seaweed taste is better than panko. The tuna is then tossed in the fridge to keep cold.
The rest of the glaze becomes a sauce. I toss it in a saucepan with a cup of shrimp stock. Reduce by at least half.
Meanwhile I chop the veggies for the stir-fry. Two carrot sticks, cut diagonally and on a bias so that they show up as ovals. Mushrooms (criminis) sliced thinly. Scallions chopped diagonally, but in large chunks. Garlic minced.
The carrots are softened and seared in vegetable oil, then the mushrooms are added to soften. When softened, remove to a plate, leaving the hot pan ready for the noodles.
The pad thai noodles have already been softened — boil salted water, take off the heat and toss in the noodles for 8 minutes. When ready, toss in the heated pan. A couple tosses, then throw in the carrots and mushrooms, and the raw garlic and scallions.
At the same time, vegetable oil has been heated almost (but not quite) to the smoke-point. I threw in the tuna to sear the first side.
As the tuna sears, I added the reduced glaze and shrimp stock to the stir-fry, and added wasabi paste
Flip the tuna after a couple minutes, then after a minute or two more, remove and slice against the grain and on a slight bias
Noodles and veggies, with sauce, tuna layered on top.
Overall, the tuna itself was inspired by the Nemo chef who came up with the idea in the first place. The rest of the stir-fry was really more doodling on my part than anything else — the tuna was the star, and the noodles/veggies/sauce was a background. Except, through the tradition of nigiri sushi, the tuna draped with the wasabi/soy sauce worked really amazingly with the rice noodles. What a classic taste, almost an equal to steak and bearnaise in culinary history. A little earthy criminis, mixed with the bite of scallions, and I really enjoyed eating this meal as much as cooking it.