One of the problems with sushi bars is that they have weaned us away from enjoying cooked fresh tuna. I know some restaurants serve grilled tuna studded with black pepper or accompanied by some exotic fruit salsa – de rigueur for any California joint that sells fresh fish. But really that’s about all the variety you get in most joints. But you are really missing something if you haven’t tried a real tuna fish sandwich. The great thing about sautéing tuna is that it really soaks up the flavors in which it is cooked. Here’s a recipe I have every summer during albacore season but you can use any fish in the tuna family. This recipe borrows from Italy, Mexico and Japan.
12-16 ounces of fresh tuna cut into 2 equal pieces
juice of 2 medium lemons
2 minced garlic cloves
2 green onions cut into about 1/4 inch pieces
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (about an inch piece grated)
2 roma tomatoes thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced Kalamata olives
1 small to medium minced jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
2 tablespoon sherry or sake
olive oil or grapeseed oil
Wasabi Mayonnaise Ingredients
3 tablespoons any good mayonnaise
1 tablespoon wasabi powder (can be purchased in any Asian grocery store)
1 tablespoon capers
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest (if you don’t have a zester just cut off about an inch of the lemon rind (no white pith please) and mince very finely)
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
2 large sour dough rolls or two 6-inch pieces of soft sour dough baguettes
8-10 leaves of arugula
1. Carefully pound tuna steaks between 2 pieces of parchment or wax paper (I save the plastic bags from boxes of cereal which are perfect for pounding and flattening fish, chicken or pork.) The easiest way is to use the bottom of a frying pan. Be careful not to make too thin or to split the fish – be gentle while you pound. The steaks should be pounded to about 1/2 inch in thickness.
2. Place tuna on a plate and drizzle both sides with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. Pour juice of 1 lemon over the tuna steaks. Cover and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. While tuna is marinating, put mayo in a bowl and whip in lemon juice. When thoroughly mixed sprinkle in wasabi powder and beat lightly with fork. Then add salt, pepper, zest a and capers. Set aside.
4. Remove tuna from fridge and let sit for about 10 minutes.
5. Heat a non stick pan to low medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. After 45 seconds add tomato slices, garlic, ginger, scallion, olives and jalapeño. Sautee for 3-4 minutes and remove to a plate.
6. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to pan and add tuna steaks. (Note: Because they are pounded the tuna steaks will cook really fast.) Turn over after 1 minute and add back in tomatoes etc. Make sure to fold the tomato mixture evenly through the pan.
7. Add juice from 1 lemon and the sherry or sake and mix in. Cook for 2 -3 minutes. (You can also cook it for 1 -2 minutes if you want it rare.)
8. Remove from heat.
9. Cut bread in half (you have the option of also toasting the bread) and schmeer one side with wasabi mayo. Place one tuna steak on top and add half of the tomato mixture. Try to really do a good job in scraping the pan so you get all those great juices. Finally top with half of the arugula leaves.
This is a kind of messy sandwich so have a few napkins at the ready.
© Paul Mones 2009