Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Danielles' Favorite Dinner - this is NOT a part of the meal on a tight budget series

Nobody has ever accused my wife of having cheap taste, and this certainly runs into her likes and dislikes foodwise as well. In fact, if she knew how affordable mussels are, she would probably bump them down a few notches on her list (JK). I suppose it's really my fault. She ate sweet potatoes & canned peas for dinner regularly before meeting me, and I am the one who talked her into eating foie gras & sweetbreads for the first time, but whats done is done, and happily so.

So, whenever I ask, "Hey Love, what do you want to eat for dinner?", about 8 times out of 10, the response is "oh, I don't know, maybe....Tuna?". I love tuna just as much as her, and you can prepare it in about fifty thousand different ways, so usually I'll go along with it. Also, for any Atlantans, the Dekalb Farmers Market has amazing quality tuna at about half the price of Whole Paycheck (I mean Foods). In fact, you shouldn't buy any fish, anywhere else. Enough of my snobbery though...on with the recipe.

A few notes about buying tuna, please never use frozen tuna or saku block. It's crap and is a waste of money. Look for a nice deep red to dark red coloring. Should have a VERY firm flesh, not at all mushy. Mushy = Old. Smell it. This is just a good rule for any fish......if it smells like the ocean, buy it. If it smells like a fish, pass.

Danielle's favorite preparation for the tuna is actually a very easy one, and is quite delicious, letting the tuna shine as the star, and keeps everything nice, light, and fresh.

Cilantro & Peppercorn seared Tuna w/Marinated Napa Cabbage Slaw
For the fish:
1/2 lb good quality ahi tuna
2 tblsp mixed peppercorns, i go with the mix, you don't have to
1/2 head of cilantro, chopped fine
2 tsp kosher salt
1.5 tblsp oil, any oil with a high smoke point

For the slaw: this may seem like a lot of ingredients, but it goes quick....I promise
1 SMALL head napa cabbage, sliced uber thin **you can sub really any cabbage you like here, whatever's fresh
1 large carrot, peeled & grated
1 red onion, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tblsp ginger, microplaned (finely grated if you don't have a microplane)
zest and juice of 1 orange/1 lemon
1/2 head cilantro, chopped rough
1 tblsp toasted sesame seeds, check post about chicken to learn how to toast spices
6 radishes, julienned
2 tblsp unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tblps srirachi, or your favorite thai chile paste
1 bell pepper, julienned
1 tblsp soy
2 tblsp sesame oil
2 tblsp scallion, sliced thin
2 tblsp mint, chopped rough
S+P to taste


1)Combine all liquids with garlic, zest, and ginger & mix well.
2)Add cabbage, onions, carrot, & radishes to the mixture. This step should be done at least 2-4 hours before serving. Set aside to marinate, in fridge if for more than 4 hours.

1)Mix cilantro, salt, and peppercorn mixture together and place in a shallow plate. Press tuna down into mixture on both sides so that it forms a complete & even coating. You shouldn't be able to see a flesh on the top & bottom of the fish once this is done.
2)Place your pan over HIGH heat with oil, and heat until the oil, LITERALLY, begins to smoke. Don't worry, it's not going to blow up your kitchen...........most likely anyway. Place tuna in pan for 30 seconds a side (this is for rare) and remove from heat to cutting board.
3)Thinly slice the tuna

1)Toss your peppers and fresh herbs into the marinated slaw to combine.
2)Lay a neat line of slaw across your serving plate, and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.
3)Top with slices of tuna and serve.

I usually go with some flat bread, like pita or naan, to give a little starch to this.

Wine Pairing: I like to go with something light, white, & acidic. The acid matches the slaw nicely, and helps cut the fattiness of the tuna. Try Concannon 2008 sauvignon blanc - it would be perfect for this. Dry, not too tropical fruity, and nice minerality.

My actual favorite tuna dish is "tuna steak frites, with housemade lemon aioli, and watercress salad". If anyone wants to hear this one, let me know and I'll post it too.


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