Tuna goes beautifully with Asian flavors, and most people have tried tuna with soy sauce, sesame seeds, or another oriental flavoring, but what about wasabi? Although this condiment is often shunned for being too fiery, it has an unusual flavor and you can combine it with other ingredients to make something less potent but still delicious.
Wasabi is similar to mustard, in that it can burn your nasal passages. The heat from chilies is experienced on your tongue, in your mouth and at the back of your throat instead, so they are spicy in a different way. Wasabi is similar-tasting to horseradish although not from the same family, and in the following recipe it is combined with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, oil, fish sauce and lime juice to make a piquant and tasty vinaigrette which is great drizzled over your hot grilled tuna.
As for the tuna, it is best to choose sushi-grade fish, since ahi tuna is seared on the outside but practically raw in the center. This is not the cheapest fish you can buy but it is worth it, to make a special meal. The tuna is flavored with coriander seeds and black pepper (use white pepper if you want) and then seared all over, so when you cut it you can see the outside is cooked and the middle is not.
- 2 ahi tuna steaks (preferably sushi quality) 6 to 7 oz each
- 1 tablespoon canola or grapeseed oil
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons wasabi powder
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 4 teaspoon peanut oil or olive oil
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- Preheat your grill to very hot (if you are grilling the tuna) and oil the grate.
- Whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients.
- Toast the coriander seeds and peppercorns in a hot skillet for a minute or until fragrant.
- Let them cool, and then grind in a spice grinder (or an old coffee grinder.)
- Roll the tuna in the ground spices until all the sides are covered.
- Grill it to cook the outside ¼ inch, turning it so you cook all the exterior of the tuna.
- Turn it often so you can make crisscross grill-marks.
- This will take a minute or two on each side.
- Alternatively you can cook it on the stove.
- Heat a skillet and then add the oil.
- Quickly sear the tuna on all sides so you cook the outside ¼ inch.
- This will take about 1 to 2 minutes per side.
- Remove from the grill or skillet and slice thinly.
- Serve with the wasabi vinaigrette.
Wasabi is an acquired taste. You can be heavy-handed with it for a bright green vinaigrette with plenty of fire (like in the photo) or use just a pinch for a milder flavor and a paler-colored vinaigrette. It depends how spicy you want it. The tuna should be red in the center and browned on the outside. Although the tuna in this shot has obviously been grilled (hence the grill-marks) you can also sear it in a skillet on the stove. Just make sure it is hot before adding the oil, then hot again before adding the tuna. A good heat is key for successfully searing tuna.
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