Everyone’s got their favorite food and mine happens to be tuna. Raw, seared, baked, broiled, battered, blackened, or canned. If it weren’t for the mercury (and the price!) I’d have it daily. Two of my favorite preparations are sashimi style over sweet, sticky Japanese rice or blackened and seared rare with cilantro and pickled ginger. The latter is exactly what I had last night.
I discovered a love for raw tuna on a business trip to Japan in 2011. Until then, my exposure to sushi was pretty limited, and living in the mid-west wasn’t helping my case. I remember sitting with a colleagues at each meal in Japan, mesmerized by the artful presentation on our plates. Of course, I was impressed that the fish always tasted as good as it looked – sometimes even better. No fishy metallic undertones at all. Just melt in your mouth, buttery bites. One after another after another. Unfortunately, I got photos of pretty much everything except my sashimi – probably because I was too busy eating it.
I’ve been practicing my technique with tuna since moving to Oahu where fresh seafood is bountiful. The essentials are a super sharp knife and sashimi grade fish of your choice. I actually purchased this beautiful handmade knife while in Kyoto. Recently, though, it’s dulled so I’m honing my knife sharpening skills. Now that is an art! If anyone needs some pointers, I watched this video and purchased this whetstone.
Here’s how I prepared last night’s meal:
- Start with sashimi grade tuna (this is important!) Not all tuna is safe to eat rare.
- Consult your spice cabinet for 1 Tbsp coriander seed, 1 Tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp paprika, pinch of cayenne, and pinch of salt. If you don’t have coriander seed or peppercorns, just used the already ground variety. Tip: don’t skip the coriander! It’s the star of the show.
- If you’re using whole seeds and peppercorns, use your spice or coffee grinder to pulverize them. Otherwise, skip this step.
- Combine all step 2 ingredients and coat your tuna thoroughly. I usually do this ahead of time and pop in the fridge until I’m ready to sear.
- Heat 1-2Tbsp olive or coconut oil in pan over medium-high heat.
- When oil is hot (splash a touch of water to see if it hisses), place tuna in pan and sear on ALL sides for 45 seconds-1 minute for rare tuna that is still cool in center. If you want it warmed all the way through and a thicker sear on the outside, up the time to two minutes per side. Not recommended more than 2 minutes per side for this preparation. I read once that overcooked fish brings out fishy flavors so I err on the side of slightly underdone (when it’s safe!)
- Use your sharpest knife to smoothly slice tuna. Try not to saw your way through as this will break the flesh and you’ll be left with shredded tuna. No bueno.
In closing, another reason for my affinity for fish – particularly tuna – is how it improves my energy levels during my next-day workouts. Some people operate well on iron-rich red meat or carb-centric pasta. My performance improves on an omega-heavy diet. It’s really easy on my sensitive stomach and all those healthy oils losen up my stiff hips. At any rate, I always have fish the day before big events! Do you have any favorite fish recipes?