Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Seared Ahi Tuna with a killer Ginger Lime Vinaigrette

Did you know that there are over 60 kinds of tuna fish in the sea, but only about 14 of them are well known to us?

The 4 most common tuna fishes we see, at least here in the Western U.S., are bluefin, yellowtail, albacore, and skipjack. What you want for this dish is “sushi-grade” ahi tuna. Ask your fishmonger if you don’t know which one that is.

I’ve previously blogged about yellowfin and how it’s an excellent replacement for the albacore tuna that we usually use for tuna fish sandwiches.  You know, the stuff we usually get in a can? Yellowfin is a very delicate and delicious fish and is also known as ahi. And ahi makes for some very nice eating. Something that you see a lot of in restaurants is seared ahi, which means that the outside is quickly seared (cooked) while the inside will remain uncooked.

Seared Ahi with Sesame Crust

Until recently, I was never a fan of raw fish and avoided sushi and seared ahi for that reason. Even though seared ahi isn’t completely raw, it mostly is, so it wasn’t something I was going out of my way to make. But the thing about ahi is this: it doesn’t taste as good when fully cooked. It’s tough and chewy, but when it’s only just seared on the outside, the meat is tender and melts like butter on your tongue.

Tyler Florence
Recently I sent my husband out to get some fresh fish for dinner and he came home with ahi. A little disappointed, and not having made it for quite some time, I had to look up a recipe for it. I wasn’t going to overcook it again because I remembered how tough it was last time I did this, so I was going to have to get over this raw fish phobia and pretty quick! I decided to go with a recipe I found on the Food Network from cutie Tyler Florence. I mean, with a face like that, how can you not but trust him? While the fish is certainly the centerpiece, I have to say that the sauce he makes for it is even better! It really is “to die for”.

Start making the sauce as soon as you get home. Let the flavors blend for as long as you can. Then, get the fish out of the refrigerator about 45 minutes to an hour before you want to cook it. Here’s why. Since you aren’t cooking it through all the way, if it’s not brought to room temperature before you prepare it, the fish will be ice cold in the middle and that’s no good.

Because the sauce is super flavorful, what you want to do is season the fish very conservatively. All you need is salt and pepper. Start with some coconut oil on your cooking surface (I used the griddle down the center of my new stove, but you can use any good sauté pan or skillet that you have). You could use your grill, but you’ve got to stay with it because this takes only a matter of a few minutes and if you walk away from it, it’s toast. Frankly, I don’t recommend the grill for this.

Get the cooking surface very hot and then lay the tuna on it, cooking it until you see a layer about 1/16" or 1/8” deep turn white. Flip it over and do the same on the other side. Go a little more if you must, but don’t overdo it! That’s it, take it off. Spoon over some sauce, and the sliced avocado, serve it with some rice if you like, place some steamed bok choy along side it (make sure to spoon some sauce over that as well) and go to town. You’ve got a restaurant-quality dinner right there!

Here is the link to the recipe. The only substitution I made is that I used coconut aminos because I avoid soy sauce.

I have made this ahi a few times now and really enjoy it. Needless to say, I seem to have gotten over my fear of raw fish and have even ventured out into the world of sushi! If you’re still on the fence about raw fish, this is a good dish to start with. Or, you can just make the sauce and serve it over vegetables. I especially love it on the steamed baby bok choy.  Add tofu and turn any veggie dish into an Asian-inspired affair.

Tyler’s killer Seared Ahi Tuna

I hope you try it. It’s such a quick dinner to make on a week night. It literally takes less than 15 minutes to make the sauce and sear the fish. If you do make it, I’d love to know what you think.

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