Saturday, January 31, 2009

Back in the Saddle Again



After three weeks of eating extra meal servings I managed to make at client's, and scary packaged things I probably shouldn't admit to, last night finally, I was able to cook an actual meal.

Sam's Club actually had some nice USA wild caught Ahi Tuna, and you didn't need to buy enough to feed the entire neighborhood; they had an iced fish case set-up with the Ahi and some nice looking shrimp. So I decided to get my mercury the old-fashioned way - through my amalgam dental fillings and some tuna vs. high fructose corn syrup.

I usually give tuna a crust of black & white sesame seeds and give it a quick sear with a little toasted sesame oil. To honor breaking in the stove I decided to use fennel seeds, black & white peppercorns, a pinch of lavender and a little lavender scented salt. The recipe is in John Ash's From Earth to Table, and I've wanted to try it for awhile. I wasn't able to make the dressing because despite searching for awhile, no mustard seeds turned up.

So I had it warm, rather than chilled over salad, as the recipe specifies, with some Harvest Grain Blend (Trader Joe's), and steamed green beans.

Thankfully the exhaust fan should be here next week because it would have been handy last night. There was a little fog, but the smoke detector stayed calm.


Seared Ahi Tuna with Lavender-Pepper Crust - John Ash

1 1/2 pounds center-cut Ahi tuna or 4 (4 to 6-ounce) 1-inch thick sushi quality tuna steaks
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons dried culinary lavender flowers
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups savory mixed fresh greens and herbs
Mustard Seed Dressing (recipe follows)

If using the center-cut Ahi tuna, trim and cut the tuna into a block approximately 2 inches across; then cut into 1-inch steaks.

Crush the salt, peppercorns, fennel seeds, and lavender with a mortar and pestle or a rolling pin. Lightly oil the tuna with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil; evenly coat the tuna with the lavender-pepper mixture, patting off any excess.

In a heavy bottomed sauté pan or a cast-iron pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Increase the heat to high and place the tuna in the pan. Sear for 1 minutes, then turn over carefully, reducing the heat to medium. Sear the other side for 1 more minutes until medium rare. Remove from heat and immediately refrigerate the tuna for at least 1 hour but no more than 3 hours.

To serve, arrange the greens on chilled individual serving plates. Drizzle with Mustard Seed Dressing. Thinly slice the tuna and arrange on top of the dressed greens.




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