Archive for August, 2007
If the world were going to end tomorrow, I’d eat seared tuna tonight. Fortunately, the world shows (almost) no signs of ending so soon. Unfortunately, tuna is really expensive. For this preparation I chose to use albacore, the more economical cousin ahi and bluefin tuna. Although you sacrifice some of the buttery texture and balanced flavor found in pricier species, you will be very happy with the results.
Note: Consuming raw or undercooked fish can lead to a bad day. When purchasing fish for this recipe, be sure to buy only fish labeled “sushi grade” or “sashimi grade”. If you’re unsure, ask your fish dude or local mermaid.
Makes: 2 Pittsburgh-rare tuna steaks
Total Kitchen Time: 40 minutes (including marinating time)
- 2 1.5-inch thick tuna steaks (albacore, yellowfin, bluefin, or other sashimi-grade variety)
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- Place the tuna steaks in a shallow baking dish, just large enough to fit both pieces.
- In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar, ginger and pepper. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade and pour the rest over the tuna steaks. Cover the fish dish (get it? I made a rhyme) with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes, flipping once.
- [Just before you're ready to cook the tuna] In a small saucepan, heat the reserved marinade. In a small cup, mix the cornstarch with 2 tbsp of hot water until dissolved. Slowly stir the cornstarch mixture into the heated marinade. Keep stirring over high heat until the marinade has thickened to the consistency of maple syrup.
- Spread the sesame seeds in an even layer on a plate. Working one at a time, press the tuna steaks into the sesame seeds, turning to coat all sides.
- Prepare your heat source (grill, grill pan, skillet) on very high heat. Seriously, get it as hot as it will go. If you’re using a grill, aim for at least 550 F. Using such high heat will let you sear the outside of the fish while keeping the inside nearly raw. Lightly grease your cooking surface with a high smoke point oil (safflower oil, enova) or cooking spray. Cook the steaks until they look like the picture above, about 2 minutes per side.
- Drizzle a spoon full of thickened marinade over the steaks and serve immediately.
Dear Adoring Fans,
Thanks to the magic of selective publishing, you, the reader, are shielded from the occasional culinary misstep here at Scot’s test kitchen. However, I decided that in the name of honesty (and learning from mistakes) I would share this story with you.
This tale begins, as do most good stories, at Whole Foods. I was shopping for a dinner party that night and planning an elaborate menu. For dessert, I wanted to make guava-filled puff pastry pillows. Unfortunately, the grocery store had no guava in any form. So, I decided to make a pear tart instead. Now, I’m not much of a baker (this will become obvious soon). In an attempt to reduce the already day-long prep time for the meal, I chose to buy a pre-made, frozen pie crust for my tart. I grabbed a few pears along with the rest of my groceries and headed home.
I poached the pears in a delicious orange soda, brandy and vanilla bean broth. I pureed some almonds, butter and sugar and spread a creamy layer of the nutt-butter over the crust. I topped the whole thing with the pear slices, meticulously arranged in a sunburst pattern. I par-baked the tart for 15 minutes and let it sit in the oven until we had finished dinner. Then, I turned the heat up to 400 and gave it another 5 minutes to rewarm. It sure looked good, and cooked too!
I presented the tart to my guests with pride, proclaiming in a usually ironic way “You know, I don’t bake much so we’ll see how this turns out,” thinking confidently that it would be a masterpiece. One cut into the tart and I knew something was wrong. The bottom of the crust was wet and doughy! The entire dessert was totally undercooked – a lot. Luckily, my guests were very polite and ate their puddle of tart with a smile on their faces. Meanwhile, I wanted to crawl into the oven and finish my baking.
I learned a few lessons from this evening. First, it never hurts to practice a dish before serving it to guests. Second, if you are going to wing it for company, make sure they’re really good company. And finally, always make sure your tart is baked before serving!
With all the burgers, dogs and ribs crowding your grill in the summer months, it can be tough for a little greenery to make it to your plate. This salad is a refreshing respite from standard summer fare.
Makes: 2 large entrees
Total Kitchen Time: 30 mins
- 2 lamb loins (about 1 lb total; look for lean cuts with bright color)
- 2 large handfuls of micro greens (I use a combination of mâche and sprouts)
- 1/4 cup Feta, crumbled
- 1/2 English cucumber, very finely diced
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp mint, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed
- 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp rice wine
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- sea salt and ground black pepper
- [Optional] Roasted red and yellow peppers
- In a large shallow dish, combine 1/4 cup of the mint, garlic, and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add about 1 tsp sea salt and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine.
- Add the lamb loins, and coat generously. Cover and marinate until ready to cook, or up to 8 hours.
- Preheat your grill over high heat. Add the lamb loins and sear on all sides until medium rare – about 4 minutes per side (cooking times will vary; don’t sue me). Let the loins rest 10 minutes before slicing.
- Slice the loins into 1/4″ medallions on a bias. Arrange atop the greens and roasted peppers. Crumble over the feta cheese and top with cucumber vinaigrette.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cucumber, rice wine, 3 tbsp olive oil, sesame seeds, 1 tbsp mint, honey and ginger. Stir to combine, and add salt and pepper to taste.
Did you find the original Lamb Summer Salad a little lacking in testosterone? Well, turn up the Top Gun soundtrack and light your afterburner: the men are cooking!
Instead of grilling your lamb loins whole, pound them flat (1/2″ thick) with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Then, slice the meat ribbon-thin on a heavy bias. Skewer the lamb on some waterlogged bamboo spears, cover with the same marinate, and grill over high heat, turning once.
The cucumber vinaigrette makes a great dipping sauce, and a beer rounds out the meal. Welcome to the Danger Zone!