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Hubby’s Grilled Tuna Salad

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When you cook a lot, you learn to work around the ever-present possibility of some sort of fiasco – or at least, I have.  Cuts, burns, ruined rice or a repeat of the Great Pesto-Tastrophe of 2005 (we had pesto on the ceiling – I kid you not) are always a specter looming over my kitchen.  I’m never entirely surprised by misfortune in the kitchen and I’m not really fazed by it at this point.  My husband, however, still comes running whenever I say “ouch” and worries over the possibility of injuries that really just make me feel like a true chef.  Last week I got bitten by my bread knife (again – can’t stand that thing) and the one good thing that came of it is that hubby wouldn’t let me do anything except for sit on the couch and drink the tea that he would make for me.  All in all, it was a pretty relaxing injury!  But that evening I had planned a grilled tuna salad and we had already bought fresh tuna for it; obviously, we had to eat the tuna and we had to eat it right away.  So we did what any seafood-loving couple would do when the cooking half is grievously injured – the hubs cooked dinner while I drank wine and shouted instructions from the living room.  It turned out delicious – rich tuna, creamy avocado and a tart dressing.  What more can you ask for?  Except, of course, for the ability to do the cooking yourself.

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Grilled Tuna Salad

2 fresh tuna steaks
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
10 dashes hot sauce
2 firm but ripe avocados, cubed
1/4 cup minced scallions
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

  • Grill the tuna steaks briefly, until just seared on the outside but still raw inside.  Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly before cutting tuna into large bite-sized cubes.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, soy sauce, hot sauce, kosher salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the avocados in the dressing, then arrange on individual plates.  Top with tuna cubes and sprinkle with scallions and black sesame seeds.

Source: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home, by Ina Garten

Wine Pairing: This is a very summery dish to me, with a lovely richness that is counterbalanced by the tart dressing – so you could choose a wine to complement either characteristic.  A nice Viognier from Virginia would stand up well.  Or you might choose to echo the tart notes from the dressing with a Vinho Verde – that would be my choice.  And, of course, you could always go with a Spanish rose – just be sure to be eating this dinner outside with candles and flowers if you go that route!

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Grilled Tuna Steaks

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The hubs has a talent for logic.  He’s a lawyer, so I guess it comes naturally.  But so am I, and not everything that comes out of my mouth is as sensible and reasonable as everything that comes out of his.  Take the other day, for instance.  I was planning my weekly menu and the hubs – who doesn’t usually make suggestions – said “I have a question.  I love tuna.  You love tuna.  So why don’t we cook tuna at home?”  It was a good question.  I was a bit concerned because tuna really should be left extremely rare.  But the Wegmans fish counter is perfectly reputable, so I agreed to give it a try.  Clearly, my concern was misplaced, since I’m writing this post, which means I am definitely still alive – and the tuna, which was seasoned very simply and grilled to perfection, was unbelievably delicious; it was probably the best fish I have ever cooked at home.  Still, make sure that your fish is very fresh and that you trust your fishmonger before attempting this recipe.

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Grilled Tuna Steaks

This almost doesn’t qualify as a recipe, it’s so simple.  It’s also insanely quick to put together – season the fish, slap it on the grill (or grill pan, if you live in a condo like me) and then bang! done!  But, for what it’s worth, here’s what I did…

2 tuna steaks (one small for you, one medium for your gentleman)
extra-virgin olive oil
good sea salt (I prefer Maldon)
freshly ground black pepper

  • Prepare your grill or preheat your grill pan over medium heat.  There is no need to oil your grill pan.
  • Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the fish, and brush to spread.  Season with salt and pepper, to the point that looks good to you.  Repeat on the other side.
  • Slap the tuna steaks on the grill and cook very briefly – only a couple of minutes per side.  When the fish slides if you poke it with your tongs, you know it’s done and you can flip it.  It should still be rare – basically raw, really, in the middle when you serve it.
  • Take it off the grill the moment it looks like both sides have been cooked, and before the center is cooked.  You might even err on the side of caution and take it off before you think it’s done.  Trust me, it’s done.  It was pretty much done when you put it on the grill in the first place.  Serve it with a green salad.

Note: Tuna is intentionally undercooked.  If you are pregnant, please don’t eat this or any raw or undercooked fish.  Please check www.seafoodwatch.org for the appropriate varieties to buy.  I used a sustainable yellowfin tuna, for instance, not bluefin – and I urge you to make sustainable choices when cooking, especially when it comes to seafood; we all need to be vigilant against overfishing.

Wine Pairing: The hubs and I paired this dish with a medium-bodied red wine, Ruby from Hillsborough Vineyards in Purcellville, VA.  Ruby is a blend of Tannat, Petit Verdot and Touriga Nacional.  It’s delicious, and I would say that even if I didn’t love supporting the wonderful wine-producing community of Northern Virginia.  But if you don’t have access to NoVA wines, any medium- or light-bodied red would be nice with this dish, as would a French or Spanish rose, or a full-bodied white.  The tuna is rich, so you do want a wine with a bit of personality to stand up to your dinner.  Of course, you don’t want a wine that’s going to kick your dinner in the pants, either, so steer clear of really heavy reds.  The next time I make this grilled tuna, and I’ll be making it again and again, I’m going to try to use a little foresight and have a bottle of my favorite Hillsborough wine, Serafina, chilling in the fridge.

Source: Covered In Flour

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