Don’t you just love when one delicious dish leads to the next? Such was the case for me this weekend when I prepared two very different versions of seared tuna.
On Saturday night I taught a small private cooking class for six. The menu for the evening had a seafood theme and my friends at Inland Seafood in Charlotte had fresh tuna available, so I ordered a two-pound piece. My plan: to use some for the class and then Tom and I would be able to enjoy the leftovers. Mission Accomplished!
First Plate: Tuna Tataki
In the class, our first plate was a super simple and equally delicious. Seared Tuna Tataki with a drizzle of a locally produced Japanese Hibachi sauce from a Raleigh-based company called TonTon . TonTon carries a wonderfully delicious line of Japanese sauces, made just like you would make them from scratch with authentic ingredients, only now, you don’t have to do the work. Just open and jar and you’ve got a delicious marinade, condiment or finish to any dish.
Here’s the How To :
I started with a two pound piece of Tuna Loin which I trimmed and cut into several 1x1x5 inch pieces.
In the class I showed my students how to sear the tuna on all sides in my favorite EVOO, Kores Estate by Olive Crate. Heat the pan, add a bit of the EVOO – just enough to coat the surface. Pat the tuna dry and add to the hot pan and oil. Sear for just a minute on each side, using a thin fish spatula to flip the pieces from side to side. You could use a non flavored oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil. But I like the taste the EVOO brings to the dish.
This is an ultra Premium Extra virgin Greek olive oil. You’ve seen me cook with this oil before and I’ve told you about Olive Crate on these pages.
The products are from Greece, but they have a North Carolina footprint as the family who owns the company live in Charlotte. Olive Crate oils and organic balsamic vinegars available at the Coddle Creek Farm store in Mooresville NC. You can also find the same plus spices and gorgeous olive wood products at the Olive Crate booth at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market on Saturday mornings in Bldg B. or, order anything in the line from them online via their website.
Back to the Tuna Tataki
Once the pieces of tuna are seared on all sides, use a sharp knife to thin slice them. To serve: shingle it onto a plate, overlapping the slices and garnish as I did, with colorful beet microgreens from Tega Hills Farm ( available on Saturdays at the Matthews Community Farmers Market) and a drizzle of your favorite TonTon Sauce to taste.
I used the hibachi sauce here; but TonTon’s Ginger Sauce and the rest of this sauce line are also pretty wonderful. Once you have them in your pantry ( and in your fridge once they are opened) you will find a million ways to use them
Round Two: Tuna Burgers
When I cut the tuna for the tatiki, I kept all the trimmings, even the darker blood line, and the portion that I did not use for the class in the fridge. Then the next evening, I gently ground all the bits and pieces of tuna in the food processor with a bit of salt and pepper, some Local fresh minced ginger I had in the freezer and some dark sesame oil. Use short on/off pulses as you grind the tuna. You don’t want it to be creamy, you just want it minced very fine.
The result: Open-Faced Tuna Burger sandwiches for a simple but delicious entree that Tom Billotto and I very much enjoyed for dinner that night and again for lunch the next day.
Shape the ground, seasoned tuna into four burgers and seared them on the stove top in a bit of additional sesame oil.
Serving Your Tuna Burgers
To serve the patties of ground, seared tuna, instead of going with a traditional burger set up. I opted to go open-faced. Place the cooked burgers on toasted slices of Sesame bread from Verdant Bread, one of my favorite Charlotte bakeries. Then, slather each slice with a homemade cilantro lime pistou made with almonds , the OliveCrate Kores Estate EVOO and some additional minced ginger.
Pistou is like pesto, without the cheese. You can make it with any herb and any nut. I love cilantro with tuna, but sage and pecans is also a might fine pistou combination on any kind of grilled seafood. Try it with halibut, flounder or use it to toss in a hot skillet with fresh local shrimp.
To top the burgers, I sauteed several sliced Shiitake Mushrooms from Urban Gourmet Farms in a splash of Mushroom Soy Sauce and a bit of Olive Crate’s Organic Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar. I oftne use these two condiments in tandem, for salad dressings, marinades and more. I am loving the sweet, sour, salty combo of flavor.
Finally, I garnished it all with Tega Hill Farms cilantro microgreens and some fabulous pickled blueberries I picked up from a great little farmers market I visited in Seattle WA last summer. They come from a blueberry farm in Bow, Washington with a terrific line of hand-crafted blueberry products and an easy to shop online store. When I travel I love shopping local where ever I am and it pays off when you find hidden gems like Bow HIll Blueberries. Use these pickled blueberries as you would capers or mild pickles. Pro Tip – the juice in the jar in great in cocktails, too!
Variations on the Theme
Or, If you’d like to serve your tuna burger topped with slaw, try this recipe I wrote when the fresh ginger harvest had just started several years ago. This post features ginger from Mary Roberts at WIndcrest Farms in Monroe NC. Mary has an online store and sells at the farm. I also buy fresh organic ginger from Sarah Jane and Jamie Davis at A Way Of Life Farm of Bostic, NC on Saturday mornings at the Charlotte Regional Farmers Market. Both of these local organic farms have newsletters to let you know about what’s available each week. Go to their websites, sign up and stay in the local loop.